Boobs on bikes tasteless but harmless, says judge

By Bernard Orsman

It will be a bit nippy in central Auckland for today's Boobs on Bikes parade, which has been given the all-clear by a judge to proceed.

Judge Nicola Mathers yesterday dismissed Auckland City Council's case for a court injunction to stop pornographer Steve Crow holding the event.

It remains to be seen if councillor Cathy Casey will carry out an earlier threat to lie across Queen St with female friends to stop the parade.

She refused to reveal her plans following the hearing in the Auckland District Court.

MetService forecaster Allister Gorman said a southwest breeze with a windchill temperature of 8C was predicted at lunchtime today.

Fewer porn stars than previous years are expected to join other women parading bare-breasted down Queen St on open-top cars and motorbikes in the build-up to Mr Crow's R18 Erotica Lifestyles Expo.

The lunchtime parade, in its sixth year in Auckland, has become hugely popular and attracted up to 100,000 people.

Judge Mathers said it was not offensive per se for women to be topless and there was nothing to stop people riding vehicles down Queen St.

"It may well be that the parade is tasteless but equally it may be that in a more mature society the vast majority might consider it harmless."

Judge Mathers said it was not a court of morals and it was her job to stick to the law.

The case boiled down to a new council bylaw and a council decision to turn down a permit for the parade on the grounds it was "offensive".

Judge Mathers said she took into account the attitude of the police in not opposing the parade, the lack of any public disorder and the fact 80,000 to 100,000 had voted with their feet and watched the parade.

"[That] leads me to the view that the bylaw is uncertain and or unreasonable in the way it refers to offensive," she said.

The judge also questioned the lawfulness of the bylaw and whether it restricted rights under the Bill of Rights Act.

Last night, Mayor John Banks accepted the court decision even though he believed it was bad for women, bad for Queen St and bad for Auckland.

Mr Banks wasn't critical of the current or previous councils for perusing legal avenues to stop the parade, but he would not be encouraging the council to give the matter any more mind time.

"I find it really rather sad. It says a lot about New Zealand and more about society," said Mr Banks, who has received more than 2000 anti-parade mails on the subject.

Following the decision, Mr Crow turned to Cathy Casey in the courtroom and said: "You threw down the gauntlet. I picked it up. Have fun."

Mr Crow said he was going for a judicial review of the bylaw and was prepared to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.

"It was a victory for freedom of expression, it was a victory for common sense.

"I mean we are in the 21st century, 100,000 people turn out to watch it. Why did it even go to court?" Mr Crow said.

Cathy Casey said she was extremely disappointed because the people of Auckland did not want "this advertisement for an R18 pornographic event".

Family First National director Bob McCoskrie, who was in court for the decision, said the Bill of Rights had just stomped all over the will and right of families.

"This is a free-for-all now. Any grubby parade can now happen on the street."

Boobs on Bikes

When: 12.45pm today
Where: From the top to the bottom of Queen St.
Where to be: In Queen St if you want to see it. Well away from the city centre, if you want to avoid traffic mayhem.

- NZ Herald

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