There's been debate about whether or not condoms should be required on porn sets for some time, and now a group says they've collected more than enough signatures to put the issue before voters in Los Angeles in June. Though there have been several recent scares that temporarily shut down production, opponents insist the current system of consistently testing performers is working and say it's wrong to regulate what people do in their sex lives. Proponents of mandatory condoms counter that they aren't trying to push their morals on anyone, it's just a worker safety issue.
The L.A. Times reports that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has collected about 64,000 signatures in support of putting the measure on the ballot, though only 41,000 are required. Now the city is in the process of validating the signatures. The law would have a major impact in the area, since the bulk of America's home-grown porn comes out of the San Fernando Valley.
Michael Weinstein, president of the organization, says they had no difficulty getting the signatures, and had support from, "Democrat and Republican, men and women. Everyone understood this was an issue of worker protection." If the initiative passes, to obtain permits to shoot in L.A. porn productions must require stars to use condoms. Adults filmmakers will also have to pay a fee to the city to cover the cost of inspections (so feel free to start dreaming about the possibility of being an official porn set inspector).
The Free Speech Coalition, which runs a porn performer STD database, opposes the measure, and suggests that if condoms were mandatory there may be less diligent testing in the industry. Director Diane Duke says:
"History has shown us that regulating sexual behavior between consenting adults does not work ... The best way to prevent the transmission of HIV and other [sexually transmitted infections] is by providing quality information and sexual health services.
However, starring in an adult film isn't just consensual sex between two adults — it's also a job. Proponents of the measure argue that we regulate safety measures in other professions and the porn industry shouldn't be any different. Darren James, a porn actor and director who was infected with HIV in 2004, says mandatory testing isn't effective enough. "I thought getting a test would save me," he says. "I'm HIV-positive. Having a barrier helps."
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