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Thursday, August 14, 2014

California Senate Shelves Bill Requiring Condom Use in Porn Films

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 2:50 PM

click to enlarge Kink.com, headquartered in San Francisco's Mission district, opposed AB 1576. - MIKE KOOZMIN
  • Mike Koozmin
  • Kink.com, headquartered in San Francisco's Mission district, opposed AB 1576.

A bill that would have required porn performers to use condoms on California sets was shelved in the State Senate Appropriations Committee today — but the sponsor of the bill, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, vows to reintroduce the controversial legislation next year.

AB 1576, introduced by Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), faced fierce opposition from porn performers and producers, including San Francisco-based porn company Kink.com. It was placed on the Appropriations Committee suspense file Aug. 4, and the Committee decided today against moving forward with the bill. 

AHF president Michael Weinstein said, "We will reintroduce the bill next year and are proud of the fact that we moved this legislation farther along in this session than any previous year. By way of comparison, it took over a decade to get a needle exchange bill passed on a statewide level, so we are prepared for a long haul, if that’s what it takes.”

Kink.com organized a campaign against the bill, dubbed Stop AB 1576, saying that that condoms would cause discomfort for performers, and force them to hand over their STI test results and medical records to employers. In addition, it would push the porn industry out of the state, opponents said. 

The bill was supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an international health organization, which argued that mandatory condom use would protect performers from sexually transmitted diseases and bloodborne pathogens. There has not been a proven case of transmission of HIV on an adult film set since 2004, although the industry underwent a statewide moratorium on filming last September when several performers — including some who had recently worked at Kink — contracted HIV. 

Hall, who introduced the bill in January, has made two previous attempts to pass condom legislation in the state, both of which failed in the Legislature. In a statement, Hall said he was disappointed that his bill had not moved forward. “While I am disappointed with today’s outcome, one thing is and has always been clear on this issue: existing state and federal blood borne pathogen laws already require the use of a condom or barrier device when producing an adult film anywhere in California and the United States. AB 1576 wouldn’t have changed existing law, but it would have helped increase industry compliance in protecting its workers,” Hall said.

Weinstein echoed Hall's statement, saying, "Regardless of whether AB 1576 became law this year, condom use already is — and has been — the law in California under existing Cal/OSHA authority." AHF is currently pursuing a workplace safety complaint against Kink with Nevada OSHA. 

"It feels good," Kink spokesman Mike Stabile said of the AB 1576 defeat. "Obviously, this has been a really hard fight. We've had to do a lot of educating about the industry. Performers have finally been heard and that's unprecedented." 

"There was an unintended good effect with this bill — it unified this industry in a way the industry hasn't been unified since the obscenity battles of the '80s," Stabile added. 

Kink founder and CEO Peter Acworth had threatened to move his entire business to Nevada if AB 1576 became law. Stabile said he could not comment on how today's decision would affect Kink's plans. 

Hall hinted that he may bring forward similar legislation in the future. "My commitment to protect the health and safety of California workers has only been strengthened by my work on this issue. That commitment will continue through my legislative efforts in the years to come," he said.


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About The Author

Kate Conger

Bio:
Kate Conger is the Editorial Assistant. She has written for SF Weekly since 2011.

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