20 Aug 2008

Court allows Boobs on Bikes parade

5:53 pm on 20 August 2008

An Auckland District Court judge has ruled that the Boobs on Bikes parade can take place in Auckland on Wednesday.

Auckland City Council was seeking an injunction against the topless parade, arguing that its real purpose was to promote a pornography exhibition. However, on Tuesday morning Judge Nicola Mathers dismissed the bid, saying she doubted whether a bylaw used to refuse the parade a permit complies with the Local Government Act.

She also said bare-breasted women may be distasteful to some, but they are not offensive "per se" and an injunction could not be enforced.

The parade's organiser, Steve Crow, welcomed the outcome, saying the council attempt to stop the event was censorship.

Mr Crows says he has instructed his lawyer to seek a judicial review of the bylaw and is prepared to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

His lawyer, Jesse Soondram, argued in court on Monday that a council bylaw that was amended to add a criteria covering offensiveness was unlawful because it breaches the Bill of Rights Act.

Mr Crow told the court his parades had been held nine times in Auckland, Christchurch and Palmerston North since 2003 and were principally about freedom of expression.

Mr Crow said he was prepared to face jail to hold his parade in Auckland.

The council argued that its bylaws are legally entitled to restrict certain freedoms. It further argued that the parade is not about freedom of expression, but is a promotion

of Mr Crow's erotica exhibition.

Auckland City Council will not appeal against the ruling. Council lawyer Carl Rowling says it thought hard before pursuing the matter in court.