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Ventura County may require porn actors to wear condoms

April 20, 2013|By Carlos Lozano and Rong-Gong Lin II

Following the lead of Los Angeles County voters, Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks plans to introduce an ordinance that would require actors in adult films to wear condoms.

The supervisor said such a measure may encourage producers of such films to go elsewhere, according to the Ventura County Star

“If it means they can only film someplace else, that would be fine with me,” Parks said, according to the Star.

The ordinance would apply to unincorporated areas of Ventura County and is expected to be taken up by the Board of Supervisors in May.

One of the nation's most prominent pornography producers is suing Los Angeles County in federal court to overturn its new law.

The suit by Vivid Entertainment, filed in January in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, says the condom measure, approved by 57% of L.A. County voters in the Nov. 6 election, violates the 1st Amendment protection of free expression.

"The exercise of 1st Amendment freedoms cannot be limited by referendum," the suit said. The ordinance stands "as an unconstitutional prior restraint upon protected expression."

Steven Hirsch, Vivid's founder and co-chief executive officer, said in an interview: "We will fight for our right to express ourselves as we please."

Supporters of the condom-porn measure say Measure B does not violate the 1st Amendment. They say it is a health and safety measure aimed at protecting porn performers from contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

"This is not a free-speech issue. This is a workplace safety issue," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "If they want to digitally remove a condom" from the final cut of a film, "there's no issue."

Measure B requires that porn producers purchase public health permits to film in the county, and mandate condom use as a condition of that permit.

The ordinance took effect in December, but the county has not decided how to enforce the law.

California is one of only two states -- the other is New Hampshire -- where state high courts have prohibited the prosecution of porn producers under anti-prostitution laws. Los Angeles is a world leader in the production of adult films.

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carlos.lozano@latimes.com

ron.lin@latimes.com

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