GoTopless organization denounces arrest and involuntary detention of NYC woman for going topless where it’s already legal for women to do so
LAS VEGAS, July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — “Our GoTopless organization strongly denounces the arrest of Holly Van Voast, who was handcuffed and taken to a mental hospital on Sunday just for standing topless outside a Hooters restaurant in New York City,” said Nadine Gary, president of GoTopless, a Las Vegas-based organization.
Gary said that when the arrest occurred, Van Voast was simply standing outside a Midtown Hooters location with friends, preparing to honor the 20th anniversary of the day New York became a legally topless state: July 7, 1992.*
“She was within her legal rights to go topless there, but the police treated her like a deranged, violent person,” Gary exclaimed. “It’s outrageous!”
After the arrest, Van Voast was forced to wait several hours in a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, Gary said.
“This incident was an act of pure insanity on the part of the NYPD and of a deranged society in general,” Gary said. “Are men taken to mental hospitals and made to undergo psychiatric evaluations for taking off their shirts? This is an extreme case of a women’s rights violation; it constitutes blatant discrimination against women, and it’s also a human rights violation that can’t be tolerated in a democracy that prides itself for policing the world over human rights issues. The NYPD must be prosecuted immediately!”
Gary said GoTopless was founded in 2007 by international spiritual leader and human rights activist Rael, who also founded the International Raelian Movement (see rael.org).
“This latest topless-related arrest is especially noteworthy because of another New York City court case concerning a public topless charge,” Gary said. “Phoenix Feeley and her attorney, Jeff Rothman, successfully sued New York City for wrongful arrest, forcing the city to pay $29,000 in damages.” **
She said GoTopless is urging Van Voast to do the same thing.
“By taking this to court and winning, she will show that violations of women’s topless rights will not be tolerated and those who commit them will be found liable,” Gary explained. “In fact, we’re advising women who plan on going topless in New York to carry a GoTopless flyer listing the legal developments that confirm their right to do so.
Gary said the flyer will quote the 1992 appeals court case making it legal for women to go topless in New York and also include a summary of Phoenix Feeley’s 2007 case, which inspired Rael to launch the GoTopless organization that same year.
“A glance at the amount of damages paid by New York City for Feeley’s wrongful arrest will make police officers think twice about violating a woman’s rights if she decides to shed her top,” she said. “New York law is already on her side.”
Gary said GoTopless is also inviting everyone, women and men alike, to participate in the next annual GoTopless Day on Aug. 26, in honor of Women’s Equality Day.
“Going topless is our Constitutional right based on gender equality under federal law,” said Lara Terstenjak, spokesperson for GoTopless. As Rael has said, either both men and women should be able to go topless in public without interference or else no one at all should be allowed to bare a chest in public. The laws need to treat both genders equally, as the Constitution guarantees!”
She added, “We hope a huge number of women in New York City, where going topless is already legal, will have the courage to exercise their topless rights. The power of numbers will help prevent more of these wrongful, highly discriminatory arrests and psychiatric evaluations.”
Terstenjak said the act of freeing one’s breasts means more than freeing one’s mind from cultural and religious taboos.
“It means freeing an entire society that has imposed silent, unfair codes on women,” she said. “Many women have come to believe that such discrimination is normal. It’s not. It’s really time to stop the insanity, and the insanity doesn’t lie in a woman’s decision to go topless on a hot summer day. It lies in allowing only men to go bare-chested when everyone suffers equally from the heat!”
To learn more about GoTopless rallies planned for August 26 in cities across the United States, visit www.gotopless.org.
* The appeals court case making NY a topless state can be downloaded here: http://gotopless.org/files/2012-07/santorelli.pdf
** The stipulation and order of settlement and dismissal for Phoenix Feeley can be downloaded here: http://gotopless.org/files/2012-07/Phoenix%20Feeley%20vs%20NYC.pdf