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L.A. City Council votes to require condoms in porn filming

January 10, 2012 |  3:53 pm

Photo: Condoms. Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times The Los Angeles City Council has given preliminary approval to a pioneering local government effort to require porn actors to wear condoms during filming -- a move that will allow the city to avoid a costly election on the issue later this year.

An ordinance tentatively approved Tuesday would require those seeking film permits in the city to require the use of condoms and impose a fee to cover the costs of set inspections. It is the first of its kind for any city in the nation, supporters of the measure said. State law already requires adult actors to wear protection during filming, but safe-sex advocates say it is rarely enforced.

The condom issue arose in December, when the AIDS Healthcare Foundation qualified a ballot measure in Los Angeles that would leave it up to voters to decide whether adult filmmakers should be forced to require condom use. The group said it collected more than 70,000 signatures--far more than the 41,000 needed.

The City Council then had two options: put the porn measure on the ballot in June and hold an election that would cost the city more than $4 million, or approve the ordinance. On an 11-1 vote Tuesday, with Councilman Mitchell Englander the lone dissenter, the council approved it. The measure will return for final approval next week. The council also voted to convene a group of representatives from the Police Department, the city attorney’s office and the state's workplace safety agency to study the ordinance and make recommendations regarding implementation.

Among those speaking in support of the proposal Tuesday was 25-year-old Derrick Burts, a former adult film performer who said he contracted HIV/AIDS and several other sexually transmitted diseases in 2010, after less than five months working in the adult film industry.

The ballot initiative initially faced a legal challenge by the city, which said that the state -- not the city -- has the ability to govern the relationships between employers and employees. But in December, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health said the city does have the authority to require condom use.

The city reached a settlement with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on Tuesday. Chief Deputy City Atty. William Carter said one condition of the settlement is that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation will pay up to $50,000 for the city's defense if Los Angeles is sued over the ordinance.

It remains to be seen how the measure will be implemented, according Kian Kaeni, an aide to City Councilman Paul Koretz, one of the ordinance's main supporters. “There’s a question of who has the authority to enforce this," he said. Currently, a nonprofit group called Film L.A. issues filming permits on behalf of the city. Kaeni said he did not know if that group would be tasked with making the new rules work.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is pushing to qualify a ballot measure that would apply throughout Los Angeles County. It would require film producers to apply for a permit from the county Department of Public Health.

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-- Kate Linthicum at City Hall

twitter.com/katelinthicum

Photo: Condoms

Credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times

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