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Sex. For most Californians, sex is a private matter between consenting partners. But what about when your job is to be filmed having sex?
Adult film production is a multi-billion dollar industry. California based production, one of only two states that can legally produce adult films (New Hampshire is the other), account for the vast majority of this business, employing thousands of Californians and generating millions of dollars in tax revenue. This industry, given the type of work required, disproportionately exposes actors to a range of health and safety risks. The industry has been largely self-regulated and has done an inadequate job of protecting its employees from disease infection.
According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, workers in adult films are ten times more likely to be infected with a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) than the population at large. A 2010 study of adult film actors in Los Angeles County found that 28% of actors tested positive for either gonorrhea or chlamydia or both diseases. Between 2004 and 2010, 23 actors employed by the adult film industry tested HIV positive with the most recent infection being identified in 2010. To date, County health officials determined that eight of these people were likely infected as a result of their work in the adult film industry. The result of this unsafe work environment is a public health crisis that would be preventable if reasonable steps were taken to protect these employees in the workplace.
Voters in Los Angeles County stood up for these actors this past fall, by overwhelmingly supporting Measure B, which now requires the use of condoms in adult films produced in the County. Recent news reports have indicated that some adult film studios have sought to evade Measure B’s requirements by seeking permits to produce adult films in Ventura County. Local governments have responded by issuing a filming permit moratorium and recently passed a countywide ordinance, mimicking Measure B. Other counties are likely to follow.
Unfortunately, a county-by-county approach is costly and not an efficient way to protect workers and the public’s safety. My measure, AB 332 builds upon Los Angeles County’s leadership by requiring the use of condoms or other sexual barrier devices in any adult film produced in California. AB 332 will provide statewide uniformity needed to ensure that the thousands of actors employed in this multi-billion dollar industry are given reasonable workplace safety protections needed to reduce exposure to HIV and other communicable diseases.
Opponents of Measure B claimed that condomless adult film production was protected speech. No amount of fluff could lead anyone to believe that exposing workers to disease or injury is a matter of personal expression.
Businesses throughout California thrive in part by ensuring that their employees have a safe place to work and that the public’s health is protected. Construction workers wear hard hats, peace officers wear protective clothing, healthcare workers wear disposable gloves. When it comes down to it, adult film actors are employees, like any other employee for any other business in the state. We have an obligation to ensure that all workers, regardless of the type of work, are protected from workplace hazards and injury.
State Legislators in Sacramento should join me in supporting AB 332 to give adult film actors a proven way to maintain a safe workplace throughout this growing industry.
For more information, please visit: www.assembly.ca.gov/hall
Isadore Hall, III, represents California’s 64th Assembly District that includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor Gateway, Lynwood,
North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, South Los Angeles, Torrance, Watts/Willowbrook and Wilmington in Los Angeles County.