By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News
A Los Angeles based HIV/AIDS organization says it has collected enough signatures for a statewide ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would enforce condom use on adult film sets in California.
Officials with AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the group For Adult Industry Responsibility announced Monday that they’ll submit more than 557,000 signatures by registered voters to appear on the November 2016 ballot.
If passed, the California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act would expand the abilities of Cal-OSHA and local California public health departments to compel condom use on adult film sets throughout the state.
Michael Weinstein, AHF’s president, said the organization collected nearly 200,000 more signatures than needed to qualify. The push for a statewide California law was needed to protect adult film performers working anywhere in the state, he said.
“It’s only fair that adult film performers be afforded the same safeguards as other Californians in their workplaces,” Weinstein said in a statement. “In November 2016, we anticipate California voters will once again reaffirm this important principle.”
Weinstein has long been the focal point of heated debates between AHF and the largely San Fernando Valley-centric adult film industry over condoms. In 2012, AHF supported and saw passage of Measure B, a Los Angeles County law that makes condoms mandatory on all adult film shoots, saying that performers deserve to be protected while working. The industry fought back, filing a lawsuit that landed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the end, a three judge panel agreed that condoms did not violate the freedom of expression.
Still, some performers and executives continue to say that tougher regulations would simply drive the multibillion-dollar industry out of state or underground.
But Weinstein said that claim is untrue. During a press conference Monday at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, he said AHF has filed complaints against seven local companies that produced recent films with performers who didn’t use condoms. Those allegedly include James Deen Productions and Evil Angel Productions.
The films are being produced without film or health permits, according to AHF.
Formal film permits for “non-simulated sex” has decreased in Los Angeles County since 2012, according to data provided by FilmLA, the private, nonprofit organization that processes permits.
A general count by FilmLA found that seven permits were filed this year from January to July by adult film producers. Last year, there were 36. In 2012, before Measure B passed, there was an estimated 480.
The Free Speech Coalition, the adult film industry’s trade association, has said the testing protocols for sexually transmitted diseases are effective. On most sites, performers are tested every 14 days and are not supposed to work until they receive a clean bill of health. The industry also has said that while condoms are available if requested, using them is impractical because they break and they ruin the aesthetics of sexual fantasy.
If HIV is detected in a performer, a moratorium is called by the Canoga Park-based Free Speech Coalition, the industry’s trade group. A cluster of performers who tested HIV positive after working at a Northern California set prompted three moratoriums in 2013.
Diane Duke, the chief executive officer for the Free Speech Coalition, said the organization opposes the ballot measure because it would allow any citizen of California to sue if they see an adult film without condoms.
“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,” Duke said in a statement.
Duke added that she believes the initiative permits private citizens to sue hotel chains, cable operators and retail outlets for selling or distributing adult films.
“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,” she said.
Weinstein said that only a producer or a performer who is producing content without condoms, can be sued.
State law has required that condoms be used on adult film sets since 1993, but production companies have skirted the regulation. The law only has been enforced on a complaint basis.