Los Angeles mandates porn stars wear condoms

LOS ANGELES Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:20am IST

Condoms with the logo of the new Swiss Stop-AIDS campaign of the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) are seen during a news conference in Bern March 21, 2011. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener/Files

Condoms with the logo of the new Swiss Stop-AIDS campaign of the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) are seen during a news conference in Bern March 21, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Lauener/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pornography stars in Los Angeles will be required to wear condoms during film shoots after the city council voted on Tuesday to mandate their use, despite a threat by producers to leave town over the requirement.

The move comes amid persistent questions about how to enforce the health measure, which backers say will protect performers in the multibillion-dollar porn industry from contracting HIV and other diseases.

Producers complain the sight of a condom in a sex scene turns off consumers of their videos.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 9-1 on Tuesday to give final approval to the measure, proposed after the AIDS Healthcare Foundation qualified an initiative for a June ballot.

The council gave preliminary approval to the measure last week, and its passage made the city the first in the nation to impose such a requirement. Most of the U.S. porn industry is based in Los Angeles.

California state already requires porn performers to wear barriers, such as condoms, when they are in contact with bodily fluids. But the rule is openly violated within the industry, said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare.

WIDENING THE CAMPAIGN

City officials were still wrestling with how to enforce the condom mandate, which is set to go into effect in 90 days.

Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A., a nonprofit hired by the city to oversee television and film productions, told city leaders he believes health workers would be best able to make sure adult film performers use condoms.

FilmL.A. hands out under 500 permits a year for adult movie shoots, Audley said. But some estimates put the number of adult films shot in the Los Angeles region at 50,000 a year, he said.

Not all productions need a permit -- such as those taking place in a soundstage -- and some shoots are done illegally.

Porn producers have been critical of the condom mandate.

Steven Hirsch, the co-chairman and founder of adult film company Vivid Entertainment, said his company has a "condom-optional" policy and leaves it up to performers.

"Consumers have said overwhelmingly that they would prefer to watch movies without condoms," Hirsch said last week.

While over 80 percent of the U.S. porn industry is based in Los Angeles, where performers are regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases, productions could move to other states or countries due to the condom mandate, he said.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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