L.A. approves condom rule for porn performers
The 9-to-1 vote Tuesday marks a significant victory for the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been rallying for years to protect the health of porn performers by asking agencies in California to mandate condom use during film shoots. In the past decade, porn shoots have been suspended several times following high-profile cases where porn performers have been infected with HIV.
“It’s a great day for the performers and safer sex in our society,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been waging a largely lonely battle for mandatory condom use for years. “This is the first legislative body to take up the issue and the near-unanimous support is very gratifying.”
For years, lawmakers have largely ignored or dismissed the calls to crack down on porn filming in which condoms aren't used. But last year, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation changed its tactics and gathered signatures to ask voters to pass an ordinance requiring adult film producers, when seeking a filming permit in the city of Los Angeles, to use condoms during filming, and pay a fee that would fund surprise inspections. The proposed requirement would have targeted the multibillion-dollar porn industry centered in the San Fernando Valley.
Last week, City Council members signaled that they believed the porn condom measure would pass and decided to adopt the AIDS group’s proposed ordinance in order to avoid a costly $4-million special election this June.
“Personally at every opportunity I have to do anything to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, I always take that opportunity,” said Councilman Paul Koretz. But he also added, “I think there’s no doubt: the voters would see this as a common sense issue and pass it.”
Porn industry representatives were furious at the vote. Diane Duke of the lobbying group Free Speech Coalition said, “This is government overreach. It’s not about performer health and safety, it’s about government regulating what happens between consenting adults.”
-- Rong-Gong Lin II
Photo: AIDS Healthcare Foundation protest near an adult film industry awards show in Los Angeles in Feb. 2011. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times