Pornography

Sex Workers Ask Cali Lawmakers to 'Keep Adult Performers Safe' by Rejecting Mandatory Condom Bill

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Kink.com/Twitter

The California Assembly is moving on rules to establish compulsory condom use for adult film peformers. Tomorrow the Assembly's Appropriations Committee will vote on AB 1576, a bill that would require condoms in porn sex scenes, along with other industry "safety" measures, including "the provision of condom-safe water-based or silicone-based lubricants to facilitate the use of condoms."  

The bill also mandates that porn production companies keep confidential employee health records indefinitely, use "plastic and other disposable materials" to clean sets, and provide all employees with a safety training program. It does not "require condoms, barriers, or other personal protective equipment to be visible in the final product of an adult film." 

In other words, there's little way for California officials to monitor or enforce adherence to the condom rule aside from sporadic checks on porn production studios. The bill also seems packed with enough random regulatory requirements to allow health officials to selectively make life miserable for any adult film company they feel like harassing.

Pitched as a measure to protect porn performers, AB 1576 has almost exclusively drawn harsh criticism from this constituency. Hundreds have signed a petition asking Assembly members to "keep adult performers safe" and vote no on AB 1576. On Twitter and other social media, sex workers have been speaking out usiing the hashtag #StopAB1576.

Tim Valenti, CEO of the gay porn site NakedSword, called the bill "nothing less than a full-frontal assault on the rights" of adult film performers. "It requires they turn over sensitive medical information about their HIV status to anyone they work for, including—in a last-minute addition added to the bill last night—a forced waiver of their right to medical privacy," Valenti wrote in a May 15 blog post (NSFW): 

The bill also puts an incredible burden on performers who choose to produce their own films. Under the law, even a monogamous gay couple using webcam from their own home could be prosecuted for not wearing a condom, regardless of whether they do it in their private life or not. They'd also be required to test every fourteen days, to maintain filing cabinets of medical records, and a log detailing every penetration in which they engaged. It's sexually Orwellian.

This isn't a healthcare bill, it's a moral crusade that uses HIV to scare legislators.

In the last 10 years, there have been at least 350,000 condom-less sex scenes shot by the professional porn industry and not a single on-set HIV transmission.

At the blog Tits and Sass, the porn performer, AIDS activist, and HIV test counselor Cyd Nova explains the porn industry's strict protocols when it comes to testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Performers who don't use condoms undergo routine testing every 14 days, with any positive results triggering a temporary industry-wide shutdown while others are tested.

Apart from the testing requirements of the job, porn performers are educated and self-aware about disease transmission. We know that becoming infected with an STI will affect our job as well as our sex partners' jobs, and most people act accordingly….

As a longtime sex worker, seeing one more 'save-a-ho' measure that will do more harm than good is extremely disheartening. Anyone in the porn industry understands that this bill passing will have the following effect: The larger porn companies will move, most likely to Las Vegas, while the law-abiding smaller porn companies that can't move or cover the expenses that this new bill will bring in will fold. I am concerned that what will emerge is an underground porn industry that will provide less access to safer sex tools to workers, along with all the other issues that pop up once increased criminalization occurs in a sector of the sex industry.

After clearing the California Assembly's Arts & Entertainment Committee 4-1 last week, AB 1576 heads to the Appropriation Committee for a hearing Wednesday. This isn't the first time California lawmakers have tried to force porn stars to wear condoms. Last year, a previous porn-condom bill, AB 640, died in the Appropriations Committee.

In 2012, Los Angeles County voters passed a ballot measure requiring condoms in any porn shot within county limits. Reason TV explored the L.A. measure in the video below: