Sex Workers and Allies in the United States are voting “NO” on Proposition 60

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North America and Caribbean Regional Correspondent
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Sex workers and sex worker rights organisations in the United States are joining many HIV/AIDS, LGBT, and other civil society organisations to oppose Proposition 60 – “The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act.”

They describe this law as “an attack on the autonomy, privacy, and safety of those that work in the adult film industry.” The act uses “safer sex” to push forward clauses that could lead to the individual persecution of adult film actors and producers and potentially criminalise the pornography industry as a whole. Proposition 60 encourages the general public to file lawsuits against workers in the adult entertainment industry that violate the California Board of Occupational Health and Safety. Though the initiative states that “condoms, barriers, or other personal protective equipment” do not need to “be visible in the final product of an adult film” it maintains “a rebuttable presumption that any adult film without visible condoms that is distributed for commercial purposes in the State of California by any means was produced in violation of this section.” Proposition 60 would “enable whistleblowers and private citizens to pursue violators of the Act where the State fails to do so.”

Though it claims that condoms do not need to be visible in the final product, it is presumed that the film is in violation of the proposition if safer sex supplies are not visible at all times. Any member of the public in California could sue any adult film performer or producer if a condom is not visible. The proposition states that only producers of pornography could be sued but many performers share in this role as well as other financial aspects of their content, creating content for their websites and webcam, for example. As representatives from SWOP USA note, “there is no exemption for injured workers, and plaintiffs will be rewarded with 25% of any fines imposed, in addition to legal fees if the court rules in their favor.”

Proposition 60 promotes discrimination of an already marginalised labor force and could also, as SWOP USA says, “present an enormous burden on taxpayers and California state regulators, costing millions of dollars to enforce.”

Michael Weinstein and his organisation AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the backer and sole funders of this initiative, have “continually disrespected the input and needs of performers, refusing to meet with them and ignoring their attempts to engage in a meaningful dialogue.”

This law has a strong potential for abuse. Proposition 60 promotes an alarming standard of vigilantism, encouraging legal grievances generated by anti-pornography groups and individuals as well as resentful consumers and fans. Through Proposition 60, any resident would be able to gain access to workers’ legal names and home addresses through lawsuits, opening workers up to stalking, harassment and violence. No health and safety standards around sex work must be implemented without the direct input of sex workers themselves.