Condom Use in Porn to Go to Vote in California

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Regional Correspondent North America and the Caribbean

California voters will have the chance to vote on restricting porn performers to using condoms next year. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the upcoming 2016 vote earlier this month, according to the Washington Post. The vote comes after several years of campaigning by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).

AHF executive director Michael Weinstein is the leader in the push to force porn performers to use condoms. It is the latest in a campaign of harassment against porn performers by Weinstein and AHF.

Weinstein explained his views to the Associated Press. “The No. 1 way that young people learn about sex in this day and age is pornography on the Internet...They're transmitting actual diseases, and the audience knows it.”

The law would grant any resident of the state to sue over violations of the condom use policy. Porn performers fear that these lawsuits could be used by stalkers to obtain their legal names and addresses. The law could potentially put porn performers at risk of violence, harassment, and extortion.

Weinstein has been the subject of controversy for many of his recent actions.

A similar law pushed by Weinstein was enacted in Los Angeles County in 2012, resulting in a 90% drop in porn permits. The law has caused economic difficulty for many in the industry. Porn companies have begun moving operations out of Los Angeles as a result.

"We're not shooting in L.A. anymore," said Steven Hirsch to the Los Angeles Times in 2014. Hirsh is the founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment. "We'd like to stay here. This is our home, where we've produced for the last 30 years. But if we're forced to move, we will.”

Porn performer Stoya explained her opposition to the condom bill to Business Insider, “It’s my body. I decide what goes in and on it.”

Another porn performer, Connor Habib, gave his views in an interview with Slutist. “My first and foremost view is that condom use should not be legally imposed. It’s really up to the performer, in my mind.”

NSWP’s Consensus Statement on Sex Work, Human Rights, and the Law enshrines the rights to privacy and freedom from arbitrary interference, including through laws related to HIV such as the proposed condom bill.

An industry group called the Free Speech Coalition represents performers and producers. They spoke out strongly against the bill in a statement. “Performers, who are currently tested every fourteen days, have long protested mandatory condom legislation, expressing that they are unnecessary given the extensive testing regimen. There has not been an on-set transmission of HIV in the regulated adult industry since 2004.”

“If the proposed initiative were to pass, adult performers would immediately be targeted by stalkers and profiteers, who would use the initiative's sue-a-performer provision to harass and extort adult performers,” Diana Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition told AVN. “This is an unconscionable initiative that would take a legal and safe industry and push its performers into the shadows.”

AVN reports that Weinstein’s AHF is also pushing new health regulations that would require porn performer to use goggles, gloves, and dental dams. These regulations are also expected to come to a vote in 2016.