Aye, There’s the Rubber—The Holes in XXX Condom Laws

Takepart.com

To wrap or not to wrap? That’s the question the L.A. County Board of Supervisors proposed Tuesday as it approved a ballot measure requiring adult film performers to use condoms during sex.

For months, safer sex advocates have been pushing for the measure on health grounds. A petition to put the measure to a county-wide vote received approximately 360,000 signatures, far more than the 232,153 required.

“If people have a choice of seeing porn with or without condoms, they’ll choose imports from overseas. It will lead to the outsourcing of porn.”

In addition to the mandate that all adult actors wear protection, the initiative includes health permit requirements similar to those imposed on tat­too shops, mas­sage par­lors and bath­houses.

“The lives of these performers are not disposable,” said AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein to the LA Times last week. “This industry is sending out the wrong message about safer sex.”

There’s no denying that working in adult films comes with health risks. According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), 2,847 STD infections were diagnosed among 1,884 performers between April 2004 and March 2008. During that time, there were 25 reported cases of HIV infection, including one incident last year that prompted a temporary shut down in the industry.

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Still, perhaps due to the common perception that XXX audiences are turned-off by condoms, adult film producers have argued that actors should have the right to choose, citing the industry’s self-imposed 30 day HIV-testing requirement as sufficient protection.

Another question is whether the measure will have its intended reach, so to speak. Most of the Southern California porn industry operates from the San Fernando Valley, located a short distance from Ventura County. Even if L.A. County voters do approve the condom measure on the November 2012 ballot, producers and performers will be able to evade it by driving a few miles to cross county lines.

Not surprisingly, communities like nearby Simi Valley have introduced similar measures to avoid any mass migration. But, unless a nationwide requirement is imposed, the porn industry is free to avail itself of easy-access loopholes, such as using smaller productions and filming in places with less regulation.

“If people have a choice of seeing porn with or without condoms, they’ll choose without,” said adult performer Ron Jeremy, 59, to the Daily News last week. “They’ll chose imports from overseas and low-budget, amateur productions... It will lead to the outsourcing of porn.”

Should adult film stars be subjected to mandatory condom use? Or is mandatory testing enough? Let us know in the COMMENTS.


Oliver Lee has been covering social justice and other issues for TakePart since 2009. Originally from Baltimore, he lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn. Email Oliver | @oliverung

 
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