Should porn stars wear condoms? Voters may decide

Published on December 28, 2011 at 5:03 PM · No Comments

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

The adult film industry shut down completely in the first week of September after an HIV-positive result was reported at a Florida testing facility. The test turned out to be a false positive, and filming resumed shortly.

HIV/AIDS activists may now be winning their argument mandating all porn stars to wear condoms now that the Los Angeles City Clerk has officially verified the gathered signatures on a proposed ballot measure. The measure, championed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require filmmakers to agree to use condoms on their sets in order to obtain a city permit for filming. The measure gathered more than 70,000 signatures, almost twice the 41,000 signatures required. Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, “We’re thrilled we’ve passed this initial threshold…We believe we’re going to prevail in court and look forward to taking this issue directly to the voters.”

From there, the petition must be presented to the Los Angeles City Council, which has twenty days to take action on the measure in one of three ways: immediately adopt the ordinance on all terms, schedule a special election or add the ballot measure to a previously scheduled election. The council has yet to be notified. The measure is likely to be appended to the June 2012 elections, according to the LA Times.

But the initiative still faces a legal challenge by Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who filed court papers earlier this month saying Los Angeles voters would have no legal authority to adopt the proposed measure even if it were placed on the ballot. He argued that only the state could legally impose rules requiring the use of condoms on porn sets.

Before the measure secures a place on the ballot, however, it faces a legal challenge by the city of Los Angeles. In early December, the City Attorney's office filed a lawsuit that would prevent the measure from ever making it on the ballot, claiming that the proposition would be a waste of taxpayer money and interfere with state-mandated health and safety codes already in place. In an Associated Press article about the lawsuit, AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael Weinstein refuted the city's claim that the ballot measure would be a waste of money, as elections are already scheduled for June 2012. “I'm not an elections scholar,” said Weinstein, “but I'm not aware of prior restraint on voter's ability to have their voices heard on an initiative.”

“We believe these performers deserve the health and safety protections already afforded them under existing law, and that all levels of government need to be involved in this workplace safety issue,” said Weinstein, in a prepared statement.

In a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Ellen Widess, the head of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health authority, said, “We believe the city can use its authority to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among people involved in the adult film industry” without interfering with Cal-OSHA.

The Free Speech Coalition, a group of advocates in the porn industry, opposes the mandatory condoms measure and asserts that a crackdown on condoms could drive filmmakers underground or to other states. “History has shown us that regulating sexual behavior between consenting adults does not work,” spokeswoman Diane Duke said. Instead, the Free Speech Coalition endorses what's already in place: scheduled, mandatory HIV and sexually transmitted infection check ups every few months.

Posted in: Disease/Infection News

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