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Measure requiring condoms in porn films qualifies for state ballot

LOS ANGELES — A locally based HIV/AIDS organization said Sept. 14 that it has collected enough signatures for a statewide ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would enforce condom use on adult film sets throughout the state.

The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act is intended to prevent sexually transmitted infections among performers in the porn industry and comes after nearly two dozen adult performers became HIV-infected while working in the industry between 2004 and 2014, according to Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and a backer of the measure.

The foundation and the group FAIR — For Adult Industry Responsibility — said they had collected and filed 557,136 signatures, more than the 365,880 they needed by the deadline for the initiative to appear on the November 2016 ballot.

The signatures must be verified within 30 days by election officials.

The proposed law is modeled on Measure B, which passed with overwhelming voter support in the November 2012 election in Los Angeles County. Initial polling on the proposed statewide measure conducted in September 2014 suggests as many as 71 percent of the state’s voters would support it, Weinstein said.

“In 2012 in Los Angeles with Measure B and with our initial polling for this measure, voter sentiment favoring safer sex in adult films is clear — unlike most politicians, voters are not squeamish about this issue, seeing it as a means to protect the health and safety of performers working in the industry,” Weinstein said.

“It’s only fair that adult film performers be afforded the same safeguards as other Californians in their workplaces,” he said. “In November 2016, we anticipate California voters will once again reaffirm this important principle.”

However, the Free Speech Coalition, an adult film industry trade association, opposes the ballot measure, which would allow citizens to sue if they see sexual acts performed without condoms in an adult film.

“In his zeal to control and monitor adult film, Michael Weinstein and AIDS Healthcare Foundation have crafted an outrageous initiative that would allow any citizen of the state of California to sue a porn star for not using condoms on film, and gives them a financial incentive to do so,” said Diane Duke, the coalition’s chief executive officer.

“The initiative likewise permits private citizens to sue hotel chains, cable operators and retail outlets for selling or distributing such films,” she said. “In an effort to patrol community morals, Mr. Weinstein’s initiative turns the state courts into a legalized method of stalking, harassment and exploitation of adult film stars.”

The measure’s supporters counter that it is not porn performers who could be the target of a citizen lawsuit, but a producer who allows filming of sex scenes without condoms.

Cameron Adams, a former adult film performer who said she became infected with HIV while working in the industry in August 2013, said some porn actors are penalized for asking to use condoms during a scene.

“Porn producers tell the media that performers have a choice when it comes to condoms,” she said. “What they don’t tell you is that if a performer wants a condom, they’re paid less. Sometimes, producers will fire you for asking.”

“We’re replaceable,” she said. “They’ll say, `I have three girls waiting to take your place, and they’ll shoot without condoms.’ So where’s the choice in that?”

Porn producers fought Measure B in federal court, arguing that it violated the right to freedom of expression, but the law was upheld last year on appeal.

The new proposal would expand the power of Cal/OSHA and local California public health departments to ensure condoms are used on porn film sets statewide.

The adult film industry, estimated to be worth around $10 billion a year, is primarily based in the San Fernando Valley.

 

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