The Los Angeles City Council adopted on Jan. 10 an ordinance that requires adult film performers to use condoms during film shoots receiving a city permit.
The 11-1 vote means that a ballot initiative that would have gone before voters in June will not take place. Councilman Mitch Englander, who represents the west San Fernando Valley, was the dissenting vote.
For the ordinance to become official the council will vote on it for a second time the week of Jan. 16. It will become city law 90 days later.
The council’s action was welcomed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the nonprofit that collected signatures for the initiative and has led the effort to improve workplace safety on adult film sets.
“The long struggle to move us to a place to make Los Angeles a safe place (for adult films) has taken a huge leap forward today,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein during a conference call with reporters.
In a statement, Englander said he voted against the ordinance because the city does not have jurisdiction over the issue of workplace safety.
“Public health falls under the jurisdiction of the County, not the City,” Englander said in the statement.” We are still waiting for a legal answer on the question of jurisdiction.”
The Free Speech Coalition, the Canoga Park-based trade group for the adult industry, decried the ordinance as taking government into dangerous territory and would undermine effective standards the industry has in place through self-policing.
“This approach betrays our Constitution,” Free Speech Coalition President Diane Duke said in a prepared statement. “It betrays the hard lessons we’ve learned in the 25-year fight against HIV/AIDS; and it betrays aggressive health and safety efforts in place that are proven and effective.
The FSC established in June a program for testing of sexually-transmitted diseases, training on disease prevention, and providing a database of performer availability.
Workplace safety has become a major issue in the adult industry in recent years following incidents of performers testing positive for HIV — once in 2009 and again in 2010. The adult industry has been self-policing by regularly testing performers.
More than testing is required to keep the performers disease free, said Derrick Burts, a former performer who participated in the conference call. During his brief time in adult films, Burts said he came down with three sexually transmitted diseases and tested positive for HIV.
“Testing is not enough as the producers like to say,” Burts said. “It comes down to barrier protection.”
The ordinance, however, would not apply to film shoots taking place in a studio setting, which do not require a city permit, Weinstein said.
FilmL.A., the nonprofit group that coordinates on-location film shoots in the city, does not track separate numbers for adult film shoots. But FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said the organization estimates it issues about 40 adult film permits a month.
AHF is currently collecting signatures to get a ballot initiative before Los Angeles County voters that would require condoms in adult films that would apply to studios in both the county and city, Weinstein said. The group has collected about 10,000 signatures so far, Weinstein added.