AHF: 64,000 Signatures Send Porn Condom Initiative to a Vote in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, Nov 29, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — –On the eve of World AIDS Day and a month prior to submission deadline for signatures to qualify a citywide ballot initiative on measure to tie the issuance of adult film permits by the City of Los Angeles to condom use in adult films, condom advocates to announce sufficient signatures to qualify measure

–Advocates from FAIR (For Adult Industry Responsibility), a campaign to shepherd the ballot initiative, needed at least 41,138 qualifying signatures (15% of all votes cast in the last mayoral election) by Dec. 23rd to place the measure on the June 2012 ballot; Former adult film performers, including two infected with HIV while working in the industry, join AHF officials to present petitions to media and City officials

AIDS Healthcare Foundation: In an effort to reduce the spread of STDs including HIV, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) together with several former adult film performers–two of whom contracted HIV while working in the industry–will host a press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, November 30th at 10:00 AM Pacific at the City of Los Angeles/San Fernando Neighborhood City Hall (Van Nuys Civic Center, 14410 Sylvan Street, Van Nuys, CA 91401) to announce they have gathered sufficient signatures–over 64,000 registered voters–needed to qualify a City of Los Angeles ballot initiative that would allow Los Angeles voters to weigh in on a measure that would formally condition the issuance of adult film permits by the City of Los Angeles to condom use in adult films shot and produced in Los Angeles, including collection of a fee from adult film permit recipients to allow for periodic inspections of sets in order to monitor for compliance. The group has gathered the signatures one month prior to the December 23rd legal deadline for signature submission.

In August when the group first announced plans for a ballot measure, the Los Angeles Times interviewed three supporters of the ballot initiative for its ‘L.A. Now’ blog. In a blog posting titled ‘Condoms-in-porn L.A. ballot initiative petition effort underway,’ AHF President Michael Weinstein together with Darren James and Derrick Burts, two former adult performers who contracted HIV while working in the industry, spoke at length about the lack of safety in the industry and the need for the ballot measure. At that time, the group formally unveiled, ‘For Adult Industry Responsibility’ (FAIR), a campaign that will shepherd signature gathering and support the entire ballot initiative process.

“We are proud to announce today here in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, and nearly one month prior to our legal deadline for signature gathering, we have secured enough signatures from registered voters in the County of Los Angeles to submit our petition in order to qualify this ballot initiative for the June 2012 election,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative. “At present, there are laws and state statutes to protect adult performers–but there has been no real enforcement. We believe these performers deserve the health and safety protections already afforded them under existing law, and that all levels of government need to be involved in this workplace safety issue. To date, the City of Los Angeles and the City Council have been unwilling or unable to put forth a motion tying adult film permits to condom use in the productions, or County, to enforce state statutes. This is why we have spearheaded this ballot initiative: so the people–the voters in Los Angeles–may decide on this important health and safety issue affecting adult film performers.”

This ordinance will be known as the ‘City of Los Angeles Safer Sex In The Adult Film Industry Act.’ In August, Arlene P. Taylor, Chief of the Election Division in the City Clerk’s office provided the following preliminary ‘Official Petition Title and Summary’ for the proposed ballot measure as set forth below:

Adult Film Industry; Use of Condoms; Film Permits; Initiative Ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would require any person or entity directly engaged in the creation of adult films who is issued a permit under the authority of the City of Los Angeles (City) for commercial filming of an adult film to maintain engineering and work practice controls, including the provision of and required use of condoms, sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials consistent with state law. The proposed ordinance also would require that any film permit issued under the authority of the City of Los Angeles (City) for commercial filming of an adult film be conditioned on the compliance with this requirement and include language regarding the obligation to comply with applicable workplace health and safety regulations. The proposed ordinance also would require the City to charge applicants seeking permits for production of adult films a fee sufficient to pay for periodic inspections. The proposed ordinance would amend the Los Angeles City Municipal Code.

“Producers of adult films are required by California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5193 to use barrier protection, including condoms, to protect employees during the production of adult films,” said Brian Chase, Assistant General Counsel for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “However, many producers of adult films in Los Angeles consistently violate the worker safety provisions of this Code. In addition, pursuant to Section 12.22(A)(13) of the Los Angeles Planning and Zoning Code, producers of all films within the City of Los Angeles, including adult films, are also required to obtain film permits. Such permits issued may contain conditions ‘consistent with public health, safety and general welfare.’ We believe the city already has the authority to tie film permits to condom use–this ballot measure will allow Los Angeles voters to weigh in and make certain this happens.”

According to the ballot petition language, “The City or any person or entity acting on its behalf to issue or process film permits may charge permittees fees in conjunction with the issuance of film permits. Such fees may include fees to provide for inspectors to ensure compliance with conditions on film permits.”

According to information gleaned from the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, AHF and members of the ‘For Adult Industry Responsibility’ (FAIR) campaign must gather 41,138 valid City of Los Angeles voter signatures in 120 days in order to qualify the measure, which would then likely appear on the June 2012 election ballot.

“We are honored to be joined today by several former actors in the adult film industry as we continue our push to require the use of condoms in all adult films shot in California,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “As they share their stories today, each will put a compelling human face on the dark side of the industry. Over the past few years, AHF has been spearheading a multi-pronged campaign pressing for condom use in adult films, and we are grateful that these courageous individuals are lending their voices and speaking out on this voter initiative.”

Background on AHF’s Adult Film Worker Safety Efforts and STD Infections in the Industry

AHF’s move to spearhead this ballot initiative was prompted by two outbreaks of HIV in the industry and an ongoing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in California’s adult film industry. As part of its ongoing campaign to require the use of condoms in adult films, AHF has undertaken high profile advocacy efforts directly targeting the industry, including key players like Hustler’s founder Larry Flynt and Vivid Entertainment’s Steve Hirsch; it has also publicly pressed Los Angeles County political and health officials to comply with the law as far as legal reporting of HIV and STD cases–including those found among performers in the industry–and to require the use of condoms on film sets in Los Angeles.

In addition, multiple organizations committed to protecting the public health have called for mandatory use of condoms in the production of adult films, including the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the California Conference of Local AIDS Directors, the California STD Controllers Association, the National Coalition of STD Directors, the National Association of City and County Health Officials, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the California Medical Association.

STDs in the Adult Film Industry in Los Angeles County

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), workers in the adult film industry are ten times more likely to be infected with a sexually transmitted disease than members of the population at large. LADPH documented 2,013 individual cases of Chlamydia and 965 cases of gonorrhea among workers between the years 2003 and 2007. In the period April 2004 to March 2008 there have been 2,847 STD infections diagnosed among 1,884 performers in the adult industry in LA County. LADPH has also observed that many workers suffer multiple infections, with some performers having four or more separate infections over the course of a year. In addition, LADPH has stated that as many as 25 industry-related cases of HIV have been reported since 2004. County health officials attribute the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry to a lack of protective equipment for partners, including condoms. The agency recommends condoms be used during production, but has never taken steps to ensure their use, or to protect the performers who are essentially required to endanger their health in order to remain employed.

“This is not just about one industry, but about our entire community, as the spread of disease among adult film performers endangers themselves as well as their sexual partners in and outside the industry,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “This is why we are bringing the question directly to voters here in Los Angeles.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the US’ largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 123,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and the Asia Pacific Region. www.aidshealth.org

SOURCE: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Copyright Business Wire 2011

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