Condoms Are Still Required in Porn, State Says

Condoms Are Still Required in Porn, State Says
File photo by Star Foreman/L.A. Weekly

If you ever watch porn (and we know you do), you might not know this: Condoms for performers are required by law.

A vote this week by state Division of Occupational Safety and Health's (Cal/OSHA) standards board nixed or at least postponed a long-simmering recommendation that would have added the word "condoms" to an official document that outlines workplace safety rules.

The vote was 3-2 opposed, with four votes needed to pass.

The board told the division to go back to the drawing board and come back with a revised proposal for adult video safety standards, said Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Julia Bernstein.

The proposed update of the state's bloodborne pathogens standards had been more than five years in the making and was based, in part, on multiple public meetings at which anti-condom porn stars faced off against public health advocates.

Today the Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which is behind the original request for an update to the standards, reminded the world that condoms are still required for porn in California. And California is one of the few places in the nation where adult video can be legally produced.

"Despite the failure of standards board to approve the updated California’s workplace bloodborne-pathogens standards, the requirement for condom use in all adult film production remains in place," AHF said in a statement today. "Under existing and ongoing California and federal OSHA standards, condom use is required in all adult film production."

Indeed, Bernstein of Cal/OSHA made that point to us, too.

"Just because the board voted this down yesterday does not mean that the laws already in place are no longer applicable," she said. "Bloodborne-pathogen barrier protection is still required. In the adult industry it means condoms."

The proposed standards for adult video were intended to clarify workers' rights to protection on-the-job from bloodborne pathogens. In other words, the state and federal governments say employees should not be exposed to sperm when they go to the office.

"Condoms are required to protect adult film workers from exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a statement released late today. “Cal/OSHA will continue to enforce the existing regulations and investigate complaints in the adult film industry."

The porn industry has fought the proposed standards, using scare tactics such as interpreting the proposal to mean that goggles would be required in adult video, which state officials have said isn't true.

The industry hates condoms. That's why you don't see them very often in straight porn.

Adult video's leaders say the all-important adult consumer rejects such imagery. And they say that, despite a recent federal report that outlines a recent case of HIV transmission on-set, the industry's voluntary twice-a-month STD testing system for porn stars works. 

"These regulations were based in stigma rather than science, and would have severely hurt adult performers," said Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the adult industry trade group, the Free Speech Coalition, said. "This shows what can happen when producers and performers unite. We look forward to working with Cal/OSHA on sensible regulation that respects performers choices."

Los Angeles County voters approved mandatory condoms for porn production in the adult video capital of the world in 2012.

Despite Cal/OSHA's stand that condoms are already a requirement, AHF, which spearheaded the L.A. ballot measure, has a new initiative headed for the statewide November ballot that would make prophylactics the law for adult video in all of California.


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