Falun Gong loses legal challenge of San Francisco discrimination

Bay City News Service/February 15, 2007
By Brent Begin

San Francisco - A spiritual group banned in China lost a legal battle to march in San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade after a Superior Court judge stuck with a tentative ruling Wednesday that invalidates their lawsuit.

Members of Falun Gong had been pursuing legal channels to either force the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to allow them in the annual parade or to get the city to stop funding the parade with taxpayer dollars.

The city attorney had filed a motion to dismiss the case based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that defends the right of parade organizers to include or exclude whoever they choose.

The case -- Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston -- sets a precedent that allows a private association to run a parade however they choose, according to Matt Dorsey with the city attorney's office.

Judge Patrick Mahoney's ruling means the court did not find that the Falun Gong lawsuit could reasonably win in court. Lawyers said they plan to appeal the ruling.

Sherry Zhang, an organizer with the group, said Wednesday that the ruling was hard to accept and it just shows how difficult it is for the group to gain acceptance in a city with such strong ties to mainland China.

Falun Gong practitioners are expected to gather at this year's March 3 parade anyway, Zhang said.

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