AIDS group seeks LA vote on condoms in porn films
(Reuters) - Voters in Los Angeles, home to the U.S. porn industry, could soon be asked to decide whether condoms should be required in adult films to reduce sexually transmitted diseases.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation said on Monday it submitted far more than the required number of signatures on a petition for a public ballot that could go before voters in June 2012.
If the signatures are officially certified and a vote is held, Los Angeles residents would be asked whether adult film producers must require the use of condoms on porn sets as a condition for getting movie permits.
Most major porn companies shoot films without condoms, and some argue that using latex prophylactics would take away from the fantasy appeal of their product. The multibillion dollar U.S. industry is largely based in Los Angeles, and producers say they might leave if new laws make condom use unavoidable.
California officials argue that a vote is not necessary because the porn industry is already covered by workplace rules protecting employees from blood-borne pathogens. They say condoms are required in cases where adult film performers could be exposed to infection.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued over $125,000 in fines against porn producers in the past five years for various violations, but some of those citations are on appeal, according to figures from the agency.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation counters that city officials and the area's public health agency have been slow to crack down on the porn industry.
"We're confident about our ability to win an initiative in an election," said Michael Weinstein, the foundation's president. "We say, why continue to frustrate ourselves trying to get the politicians to stand up and do something when the people seem to be ahead of them."
Former porn star Derrick Burts, 25, who said he was infected with HIV on a porn shoot in 2010, claimed some performers would like to wear condoms but will not go against the wishes of their producers.
"In this industry, you fight for every dollar you can make, because when you get into this industry, it's hard to get out and make a normal living because your face is everywhere as someone who's done porn," Burts said.
A representative for adult industry group the Free Speech Coalition did not return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment, and a representative from the city's film permitting agency could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bob Tourtellotte)
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