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California Today: Requiring the Use of Condoms in Adult Films

If you work on a construction site, you’re required to wear a helmet.

Likewise, if you perform on an adult film set, shouldn’t you have to wear a condom?

That’s the logic supporters hope will lead voters in November to approve Proposition 60, a statewide initiative that would require pornography producers to enforce condom use.

“If these producers cared about our health and safety, this is a no-brainer,” said Derrick Burts, a proponent and former adult film worker who contracted H.I.V.

Those in the industry, however, are vehemently opposed. They have been joined by a number of organizations, including five of California’s biggest newspapers and both major political parties, who have raised concerns that Proposition 60 is written in a way that could unleash a wave of costly litigation.

Under the measure, any private party would be allowed to sue producers of pornography if the state’s workplace safety agency failed to act on a reported violation.

If such a lawsuit prevailed, the plaintiffs could get a cut of the judgment.

What’s more, opponents say, the litigation would force adult film performers, who often double as producers, to publicly disclose their real names and addresses.

“That just sounds like a social nightmare and a cultural nightmare,” said Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the industry.

Adult film companies have said condoms hurt sales and argued that frequent testing for sexually transmitted diseases has worked to keep H.I.V. outbreaks at bay.

Some have threatened to relocate their lucrative businesses, based mostly in the San Fernando Valley, to other states over the condoms issue. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Proposition 60 would likely cost “several million dollars” a year in lost tax revenue.

Mr. Leue said businesses that don’t flee could also simply opt to go underground. There, he added, performers would face even greater risk.


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