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How will L.A. County enforce the law requiring condoms in porn?

November 8, 2012 |  7:03 am
Health activists rallied last year to demand the use of condoms in porn films. L.A. County voters approved such a measure Tuesday. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

After voters resoundingly passed Measure B, Los Angeles County officials were grappling with the big question: How will they enforce a condom requirement in the filming of pornography?

The answer could mean the prospect of government inspectors on porn sites watching if condoms are being used, and surprise inspections of unlicensed porn shoots. It’s possible that regulators would view adult movies for evidence of violations.

However it is managed, the job of enforcement now falls to the County of Los Angeles, the nation’s most populous county, and  home to the world capital of pornographic films, the San Fernando Valley.

FULL RESULTS: L.A. County races

“People voted for it and they’re entitled to have it on the books,” said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who has long said the issue of condoms for porn actors was a matter of state enforcement, not a county issue. “It’s a challenge we’re going to have to confront.”

The measure is set up to require porn film producers to get public health permits, good for two years,  as a condition of filming anywhere in Los Angeles County. The permits require that condoms be used during filming of vaginal and anal sex scenes. Repeated violations could result in civil fines or misdemeanor charges.

AIDS activists call the measure similar to requiring restaurants to obtain a public health permit and submit to surprise inspections. Bathhouses and sex clubs –- businesses where gay and bisexual men meet for anonymous sex –- are  inspected quarterly by the county Public Health Department and pay annual fees of more than $1,000 each. The businesses are required to offer free condoms and on-site testing of HIV.

County public health officials have previously said it would be challenging to identify “underground, inconspicuous, intentionally non-compliant filmmakers.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein, who sponsored and championed Measure B, called the large margin of victory -- 56% to 44% -- a victory for public health and common sense.

The porn industry has threatened to sue the county over Measure B and move film production elsewhere.

If porn companies move elsewhere in California, Weinstein said they would still be violating Cal/OSHA rules, which require employers to protect workers from potentially infectious bodily fluids.

"This industry has a serious case of denial," Weinstein said. "Every industry is covered by workplace safety laws and they are no different."

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-- Jason Song at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration and Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: Health activists rallied last year to demand the use of condoms in porn films. L.A. County voters approved such a measure Tuesday. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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