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from www.dailybreeze.com – Voters may decide in November whether condoms should be mandatory for porn movies produced in Los Angeles County.
The Board of Supervisors postponed a vote Tuesday on the measure authored by AIDS prevention advocates, but the members appeared ready to support placing it on the ballot after a few legal questions are answered.
“I do believe voters have the right to vote on it in November, no question about it, but I do think a lot of work is going to have to be done between now and the passage of this ordinance to create a path forward for credible enforcement,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said.
“There’s nothing worse than a law that is a mockery from the starters gate, so we need to figure out a way to make this stick,” he added.
The deadline for placing a measure on the ballot is Aug. 7.
After advocates submitted a petition with 372,100 signatures – 140,000 more than is required to qualify for the ballot – the supervisors had the option Tuesday to enact an ordinance or submit it to voters in the next election.
Several on the board indicated their willingness to place the “Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act” initiative on the ballot, but they postponed taking action until the end of July, so their lawyers can first hash out questions about jurisdiction and enforceability.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides medical care and other services to more than 150,000 people with HIV/AIDS across the world, has been pushing for years to require the largely San Fernando Valley-based multibillion-dollar porn industry to use condoms for high-risk sexual acts.
The proposed ordinance would also require porn producers to obtain a public health permit after completing training on blood-borne pathogens and submitting an exposure control plan.
Fees charged for the permits would be used to pay for enforcement.
Violations would result in civil fines and/or criminal misdemeanor charges.
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said it was a question of workplace safety, with data showing adult film performers are 68 times more likely to be infected with sexually-transmitted diseases than other young adults in Los Angeles.
“We know of no other industry in the state of California where people go on television and say, ‘We’re going to flout the law,'” he said.
“I feel a personal responsibility that this industry, which is a scofflaw, operates in my backyard and not only is endangering these young people who are in this industry, but is sending a terrible message to the world that the only kind of sex that is hot is unsafe,” he added. “I don’t believe these young people’s lives are disposable.”
Yaroslavsky wondered whether the proposed ordinance would be effective, pointing out many porn producers operate outside of the law.
“As we know, most of this industry is underground, neither the city nor the county nor Occupational Safety and Health Administration is going to be able to find every garage in the county of Los Angeles where the filming takes place, or every rented home in the hills where filming takes place,” he said.
The county’s lawyers are still researching whether the entire county, or only incorporated cities within the county, would be covered by the ordinance.
The porn industry has argued that its viewers do not want to see condoms in films, and companies would simply move their productions to other cities, or film underground without permits. The industry has also argued that it takes steps to police itself on health issues with frequent testing of performers and has relatively low rates of HIV/AIDS infection.
But Mark McGrath, a public health policy consultant with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, argued the gay performers has been using condoms for years and their movies have remained profitable.
He added the porn industry could opt to have actresses use female condoms, which are not visible.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council enacted an ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms while performing in the city, after the AIDS Healthcare Foundation collected 70,000 petition signatures.