Key West Politics: Define Nudity

Key West Politics: Define Nudity

Conversations around the island have ensued that Fantasy Fest has gotten out of hand, and some have seen nudity as far away from Duval as Publix. With that event in mind, and the push to bring a clothing optional beach to Key West, the mayor and city commissioners are redefining what nudity, including body painting, is.

“This all came around in August of last year the first time we met with Florida Free Beaches. If you read it, literally you cannot sunbathe nude in your own pool”, Commissioner Teri Johnston pointed out.

In response, City Attorney Shawn Smith has come up with appropriate language to change Sec 42-9 Nudity, body painting.

For this meeting, Section (b) was reworked to state Nudity, body painting as “Prohibited conduct”. No Person shall sunbathe, bathe, wash, or swim in any bay, lake, pond, pool, bight, ocean, gulf, beach, or public place within the city, being in a state of nudity or insufficiently clothed to prevent improper exposure of his person.

Commissioner Johnston told her colleagues the language makes it difficult for the police to enforce anything.

“If this is a Duval street celebration then let’s make it a Duval street celebration,” she offered. “Where people know if you go down there, there are going to be nude people.”

Commissioner Barry Gibson wanted to know what the intent of the language is, and what exactly the commission is trying to accomplish stressing it is important to not open doors supporting nudity during Fantasy Fest.

Alan Leigh, who moved to Key West with his wife Tracy to establish a nude beach, admitted he doesn’t want people walking down the street naked, “nobody wants that”. But, still they feel it’s unfair if the two of them walked down the street topless, Tracy would wind up with a ticket. He would walk away a free man.

“The definition needs to be the way it’s defined by the state supreme court”, she pointed out.

The state statute provides that Key West can designate a place set aside for nudity (in case a clothing optional beach is created), and makes it very clear women cannot be ticketed for breast-feeding. Language, which wouldn’t be made clear unless the act of baring one’s breast in public in Florida was illegal.

The new language will iron out the grey areas concerning whether or not you have the right to sunbathe in your own backyard. The commission wants to make sure no one is given a ticket or taken to jail for pulling off the top in your own pool.

A right Vice Mayor Mark Rossi didn’t hesitate to make light of after a lengthy discussion.

“So, that means Commissioner Weekley will be able to sunbathe nude in the back of his house,” he asked.

“If he so desires,” Commissioner Johnston responded.

The move to pass the amended language passed and will now move on to a second reading at the next meeting Tuesday, June 1. City Attorney Shawn Smith says there’s not doubt the ordinance can be more clearly written, and was never meant to be interpreted, as you can’t sunbathe nude in your own backyard.

 

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