Dancing Nude to Oppose Christmas

When Ria Ora danced nude in Harvard Square, she said she was just expressing her opposition to the commercialization of Christmas. A judge agreed, tossing out a lewdness charge against her.

But on April 10, the state’s highest court reinstated the charge. The Supreme Judicial Court found that the state’s open and gross lewdness law does not violate Ora’s First Amendment free-expression rights.

Ora was arrested after she danced nude during an annual protest June 25, 2005, against the commercialization of Christmas.

A judge found that state law completely bans public nudity and therefore violates free-speech protections. But the Supreme Judicial Court said it has already limited the ban to nudity imposed upon an unsuspecting or unwilling audience.

The court reversed the judge’s dismissal, and sent the case back to Cambridge District Court.

Ora’s lawyer, Daniel Beck, said he was disappointed in the ruling and believed the law was overly broad in restricting public nudity.

“Certainly there are circumstances under which people should be allowed to do that, and this statute doesn’t make exceptions for those types of circumstances,” he said.

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