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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 6 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 23
Porn safety bill passes California committee, goes to assembly floor
Section One
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Porn safety bill passes California committee, goes to assembly floor

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A bill designed to protect porn actors by requiring condom use for all film shoots has passed the California state Assembly Appropriations Committee and will head to the floor for debate. The vote was 9-3.

In addition to the condom requirement, AB 1576 also requires 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.' Consequently, critics of the legislation say, state officials have no way to monitor compliance aside from sporadic checks on porn production studios.

Similar laws have been enacted in Los Angeles City and LA County.

The primary sponsor of the measure, Assemblyman Isadore Hall III, said he wanted to protect the health and safety of California's workers, regardless of their occupation.

'For too long, the adult film industry has thrived on a business model that exploits its workers and puts profit over workplace safety,' Hall said.

The measure is strongly supported by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a longtime critic of the porn industry.

As might be expected, the legislation was opposed by porn industry spokespeople, which slammed the measure as a 'morality crusade' that would drive the billion-dollar industry underground and out of the state.

'Make no mistake - we will fight it, and we will win,' said Diane Duke, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, the porn industry's trade group.

'We cannot allow politicians to treat adult performers as disposable, to disregard very real concerns in favor of a paternalistic bill that criminalizes adult film,' Duke said in a statement.

The FSC said it collected signatures from nearly 500 porn performers who oppose the bill and sent a delegation to Sacramento to present them ahead of the May 25 committee vote.

Surprisingly, the bill was also opposed by mainstream LGBT organizations like the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

'We are disappointed that proponents of this bill have worked to actively silence the viewpoints of sex workers from this process,' the group said in a statement.

'If this legislation were truly aimed at creating a safer work environment, workers would have been brought to the table to discuss their safety needs and make suggestions about how to best address them. Proponents of AB 1576 have attempted to silence, shame and bully sex workers and in doing so have shown that their agenda clearly isn't about the health of these workers, it's about a moral campaign against their industry.'

The Transgender Law Center also opposed the measure.

'Transgender communities remain some of the most impacted by HIV and face remarkably high rates of discrimination in education and employment,' TLC said.

'While Transgender Law Center appreciates the intentions behind AB 1576, we are concerned that harsh penalties will drive big production studios out of California and small studios underground. This would result in lost economic opportunities for many in the adult film industry, both in front of and behind the cameras, inadvertently causing more harms to performers that this bill intended to protect.'

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