FSC Statement on Affirmative Vote by CA Senate Labor Relations for AB1576

June 25, 2014

This morning, California Senate Labor & Industrial Relations Committee cleared AB 1576, the legislation to require mandatory barrier protection use on adult production CA-Senate-Sealsets. The bill will now proceed to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Regarding today’s developments, Free Speech Coalition issued this statement:

“Today’s vote is a slap in the face to adult performers, who have been outspoken in their opposition this bill and have worked so hard to defeat it. In his words and actions, Hall has made it abundantly clear that he knows little about the performers he seeks to control, and respects their opinions even less. He has not worked with them on this bill, and has actively spurned their offers to create an alternate solution that would strengthen comprehensive workplace safety measures while respecting their real concerns about privacy and personal choice.

Supporters of AB 1576 stated again in the hearing that the bill relies on the PASS database for testing and enforcement. That Hall would rely on our private procedures says something both about the strength of our existing  procedures, and the short-sightedness of Hall as to what this bill will cost the state. As the bill approaches appropriations, we suspect that Senators will have very serious concerns about how a private testing system run privately serve as the backbone for government regulation.

We understand that Assemblymember Hall wants a bill for his legacy, but such legacy should not be built on the backs of adult performers.”


St. James Infirmary Joins Opposition to AB 1576 Condom Law

June 18, 2014

SJI_Symbol_Logo_2009

SAN FRANCISCO — The St. James Infirmary is urging California state Senators to vote against the controversial condoms-in-porn bill, citing the potential to criminalize of adult performers and producers, and the consequent weakening of the industry’s testing system.

“We are disappointed that neither Assemblyman Hall nor AHF has ever reached out to performers or the adult film industry to consult with workers’ concerns and how to make a sensible law that actually protects workers rather than harms them,” the group said in a statement. “We urge politicians to vote NO on AB 1576 and invite legislators to craft a policy with performers, health care professionals, and adult industry producers.”

The St. James Infirmary joins a growing number of progressive organizations fighting a bill that would make it a crime to not use a condom on an adult film set. The Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Center for Sex and Culture and the Transgender Law Center have all opposed the bill introduced by Assemblymember Isadore Hall.

“The St. James Infirmary has been a crucial resource for adult performers for over fifteen years, and we’re so glad to have their help in defeating this bill, ” says Diane Duke, Executive Director of the Free Speech Coalition. “As a clinic, they are on the front lines of the battle for sex worker health, and are not afraid to stand up to the moral crusaders behind AB 1576.”

Full text of the statement is below.

 

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** Stop AB 1576 from Harming Adult Film Performers
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“The St. James Infirmary, a peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers and our families, opposes AB 1576 and urges California Senate members to vote against it.

This is the third time Assemblymember Isadore Hall and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) have attempted to push a mandatory use of “protective equipment” (e.g., condoms) on a state level, and we hope this is once again defeated and for the last time.

As a clinic that centers itself around harm reduction and workers rights, we believe mandating “protective equipment” along with requiring producers to hold on to HIV and STD testing information is an invasion of performers’ privacy and creates an alarming liability to performers and producers. If this AB 1576 becomes law, every Dick and Jane shooting an adult film will be responsible with upholding HIPAA protected HIV and STD information for performers. The room for error is great and concerning.

AB 1576 is touted as a response to a “public health crisis” that AHF has manufactured. The truth is that there have been no cases of HIV transmission on an adult film set since 2004. A self-imposed industry standard of HIV and STD testing for performers every 14 days has been effective in reducing transmission to incredibly low rates compared to the general public. Because this risk is so small, we question the real motive behind this bill.

We are deeply concerned of the potential criminalization of industry professionals and performers under this bill. If Cal-OSHA places a pornography set under the same standards and scrutiny as a medical setting, the transmission of fluids, whether accidental or not, may carry criminal penalties to producers and performers.

AB 1576 will weaken testing protocol and expose workers to infection. The bill defers to the California Department of Public Health (DPH) and Center for Disease Control recommendations for HIV and STD testing, which has no specific understanding of performers risks. A rapid HIV antibody test detects HIV in most people at 8 ½ weeks, with DPH extending that until 6 months, whereas all major producers now use a HIV viral load test which detects the virus in 7-10 days after contact. Most adult film producers already require full-panel STI testing no earlier than 14 days prior to any sexual shoot.

AB 1576 will drive out businesses, and it already has. The porn industry has had an estimated worth of $6 billion in California. The thousands of jobs it provides to performers, technicians, videographers, cooks, etc., will be lost. Here in San Francisco, we serve many performers and their partners. We are concerned about the unintended consequences of eliminating one of the safest options to engage in sex work.

We are disappointed that neither Assemblyman Hall nor AHF has ever reached out to performers or the adult film industry to consult with workers’ concerns and how to make a sensible law that actually protects workers rather than harms them.

We urge politicians to vote NO on AB 1576 and invite legislators to craft a policy with performers, health care professionals, and adult industry producers that actually provides more worker protection rather the severe problems that AB 1576 will create.”


The 9 Most Outrageous Flaws In AHF’s Performer STI Study

June 12, 2014

The numbers regarding STI transmission put out yesterday by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation are shocking in their duplicity, and the study is shameful in its methodology.

For months, AHF has claimed that its mandatory condom bill, AB1576, was not an attack on the industry or its performers. However, it’s clear from this study that they have no respect for performers themselves, and that their ultimate goal is not to improve the industry, but to shut it down. In his press conference, Michael Weinstein claimed that performers were a threat to public health, and are “leading to the spread of disease outside the industry.”

If AHF wanted to foment a moral panic about porn, this study is a great way to do it. A few points worth bearing in mind as you consider their conclusions.

  • Rather than publishing the study, which would allow the press to examine the numbers and the methodology fully, AHF released it as an infographic poster — less information than you’d get an 8th grade science project. This isn’t data, it’s propaganda.
  • Rather than only using data from the regulated facilities where adult performers test every two weeks, and which would provide a true random sampling, AHF solicited a portion of their participants instead from an STI treatment clinic, which they knew would skew numbers higher.
  • A full 20% of the participants in the study had not shot a single adult film in the past month, making the claim that these numbers reflect workplace transmissions spurious at best.
  • In fact, over 70% of the participants said they didn’t use a condom in their private life, and another 23% said they had exchanged drugs/sex for money. AHF made no effort to distinguish STIs that came from adult film workplaces from those contracted off-set. Furthermore, it fails to mention that any performer who tested positive for an STI at an industry testing center would be prevented from working. Still, in their press release, AHF stated that this study “[confirms] the high STD risk performers face at work.” No, it doesn’t.
  • This abstract, released before the study began, shows that they went into the study looking for a specific result — that adult film performers are a threat to themselves and others — rather than an accurate one.
  • They didn’t get the numbers they wanted on other STIs, so they left them out. The initial proposal for the study stated an intention to study STIs including syphilis and HIV. They only released data on chlamydia and gonorrhea, suggesting that even with their skewed methodology, they couldn’t generate the evidence of the STI danger they wanted.
  • The additional data they released about prostitution and drug use has nothing do with safe workplaces, and everything to do with debasing adult film performers. Because they haven’t released the backing data or even the questions used, no one can even evaluate this for truth, or see how it correlates. There are good reasons this paper hasn’t found a publisher.
  • The data shows that porn performer have access to, and do often use condoms. Even in their own skewed study, almost a third of participants said they had used a condom on an adult film set in the past thirty days, which counters to their oft-repeated claim that performers denied condoms on set, and are “blacklisted” if they request one.
  • This is not the first time that AHF has released data that was flawed and had to be retracted. Or even the second time. In fact, AHF has a long history of using junk science to support political campaigns.

This report treats adult performers like pariahs, and has little to do with workplace conditions. It’s tremendously revealing about AHF true intention, and the lengths they’ll go to push this bill on performers. Wisely, adult performers are familiar with AHF’s tactics and have been vehement in their opposition to AB1576 from its inception. Over 600 performers have signed a petition asking legislators to vote against AB1576, because it will criminalize adult filmmaking and make their working conditions less safe.

It’s also worth noting that in introducing the study, Michael Weinstein of AIDS Healthcare Foundation said that HIV is not his primary concern, STIs are. This is in stark contrast to everything he’s said for years, the people he has put forth at hearings, and the mission of his organization. It seems his own research is telling him what performers and producers have been trying to tell him — there hasn’t been a workplace transmission of HIV in the adult film industry in over ten years.

We look forward to the release of the actual numbers so that we can have an honest discussion about the real risks faced by adult performers, and how to best educate and protect them. We call on AHF to release the methodology and the raw data behind this study.

In the meantime, if you’re curious why performers oppose AB1576, check out this piece in Huffington Post by Casey Calvert.


Statement on the Appropriation Committee’s passage of California State Assembly Bill AB1576 from Diane Duke of the Free Speech Coalition

May 21, 2014

hashtag2Today, Isadore Hall and Michael Weinstein forced a bill on adult performers despite the vociferous opposition of the performers themselves. AB1576 denies performers control of their own body, their own sexuality, and their own privacy. Over five hundred performers have bravely come out in public opposition to this bill, despite Hall’s endless shaming. For the past few month, Hall has portrayed performers as a public health hazard, using discredited studies that read like Victorian pulp novels. This isn’t about protecting performers, this is a morality crusade aimed at driving a legal, regulated business out of the state and underground.

Hall never approached performers to find out what they wanted — he gave them what he wanted. That’s why the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Transgender Law Center, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Center for Sex and Culture and the Adult Performers Advocacy Committee and others joined the Free Speech Coalition in its opposition to a bill that strips performers of vital protections.

This bill will now go to the State Assembly. Make no mistake — we will fight it, and we will win. Hall’s attacks have unified the producers and performers in a way we haven’t seen since the culture wars of the 80s. We can not allow politicians to treat adult performers as disposable, to disregard very real concerns in favor of a paternalistic bill that criminalizes adult film. Hall has never been on an adult film set, he does not know how the industry works, he does not understand the concerns of adult performers — and he does not care. He has what he thinks is a political winner on his hands, and he’ll continue with it until he destroys what he claims he will protect.

It’s worth noting, of course, that AHF and Hall have spent millions of dollars and several years fighting HIV in adult film, despite the fact that there has not been on-set transmission of HIV on a regulated adult set in over ten years. Meanwhile, Hall’s own district has one of the highest rates of HIV mortality in the country, and does not contain one of his sponsor’s clinics. Crusading against porn stars may make for good headlines, but it makes for lousy policy. We didn’t ask for it, but we look forward to this fight.


Adult Performers, Performer Groups Announce Vehement Opposition to Condom Bill

May 19, 2014

AB1576 “shows a total disregard for performers’ autonomy”

Nearly 500 adult performers have signed a petition asking legislators to vote no on AB1576, a bill that many performers say violates their privacy, and is so restrictive that hashtag2it would push a legal industry underground. For the first time, AB1576 would establish criminal penalties for not using a condom in an adult film, require producers to keep a log of a performer’s sexual activities, and force performers to waive their right to medical privacy.

Independent groups representing adult film stars, including the Adult Performers Advocacy Committee and the Erotic Service Providers Union, have joined the 463 petitioners and the Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry trade group, to oppose AB1576. The petition will be presented in Sacramento on Wednesday at an Assembly Appropriations hearing.

“This is an insulting and paternalistic bill,” said Lorelei Lee, a performer and one of the bill’s most vocal opponents. “This shows a total disregard for performers’ autonomy and threatens a vital safety infrastructure that we have spent ten years building. AB1576 squanders resources addressing a problem that doesn’t exist. If the bill becomes law, it will, in fact, harm the people it claims it will protect.”

California State Assembly Bill AB1576 is the collaboration between Michael Weinstein, the controversial head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and Assemblymember Isadore Hall, a Baptist minister. It is the third time they have attempted to advance such a bill.

“Performers shouldn’t have to give up control over their bodies,” said Diane Duke, head of the Free Speech Coalition. “We are a small community, and not always the most political, but outrage has come from all areas of the industry — gay, straight, trans, fetish, studio and independent — to fight against a bill that criminalizes sex between consenting adults. More performers are signing this petition every day, and we look forward to presenting it Wednesday.”

Nina Hartley, a performer and registered nurse, called AB1576 “a solution in search of a problem,” during testimony before the state Assembly in April and has been vociferous in her opposition to the bill. “There has not been a single case of HIV transmission between performers on a regulated adult film set in over ten years, and yet they treat us like a threat to public health, using shame, sexism and fear-mongering to dismiss our concerns about privacy, discomfort, rights and safety.”

A delegation of performers, including Lee, will be heading to Sacramento on Tuesday to present the petition to legislators in advance of Wednesday’s hearing.


A Message from Performer/Director Lorelei Lee #StopAB1576

May 8, 2014

AB 1576 is otherwise known as the California “condom” bill that would require mandatory use of barrier protection and testing for ALL performers on adult movie production sets. The adult industry opposes this bill because:

  • Industry stakeholders (performers, studios, etc.) have no voice in this bill, which was introduced and is backed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
  • Existing industry protocols for self-regulation, which took over a decade to develop, will be destroyed and will likely be replaced with less accurate tests for HIV and other STIs.
  • The performers – who will be most affected by this regulation – simply do not want mandated barrier protection, which includes condoms, dental dams, gloves, face shields and hazardous waste exposure-like procedures.
  • If passed, the regulations will drive adult producers to relocate to Nevada, or to other locations worldwide, where regulation will be difficult if not impossible.

But don’t take our word for it. Here’s performer/director Lorelei Lee speaking out on why she opposes AB 1576.

The bill has passed through two legislative committees and is now on its way to the appropriation committee. If it passes there, AB1576 would go on to be voted on by the State Senate.

If you care about or enjoy adult entertainment, please share this information about condom laws in California. If you tweet, please use #stopAB1576. And if you need information for how to contact legislators, please email info@freespeechcoalition.com.


Assemblymember Isadore Hall Reintroduces Condom Legislation as AB 1576

January 31, 2014

320px-California_Capitol,_Sacramento,_CaliforniaFree Speech Coalition (FSC) has learned today new legislation that would mandate barrier protection for adult performers was introduce to the California Assembly by Assemblymember Isadore Hall (D – Compton).

The new bill is called AB 1576 and was introduced prior to the deadline for new bills to reach the assembly. This is the third time that Assemblymember Hall has attempted to push through mandatory barrier protection; in 2013, he sponsored both AB 332 and 640 in unsuccessful bids to legislate condom use in the adult production industry.

“This measure will further drive production out of state and create severe hardships for ancillary businesses,” said FSC CEO Diane Duke. “Last year, we were able to defeat AB 332 and 640 by going to Sacramento to lobby. It made a big difference for legislators to see people show up to protest those bills. When we go there again, to fight AB 1576, we will really need the assistance of everyone in the industry – our livelihood in California is at stake.”

The primary advocate for mandatory condom regulations is nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which has supported Hall’s campaigns to have the bills passed into law. This latest attempt to mandate barrier protection usage is the latest development in AHF’s nearly ten-year long campaign to force legislation on the adult industry.


Film Permits for Adult Production Plummet in Los Angeles

November 15, 2013

no-on-measure-b2‘Measure B’ condom law blamed for over $450,000 in lost permitting revenue as shoots, jobs move out of state

According to information from film permitting agency FilmLA, only 24 permits for adult film productions in Los Angeles County have been filed as of their last report in 2013. That number is down significantly from approximately 480 permits filed by this time last year and prior to last November’s passage of Measure B , L.A. County’s controversial condom mandate for adult film productions.

This means that, at an average cost of $1,000 in fees for each permit, L.A. County has lost approximately $456,000 in revenue. Added to this loss, L.A. County is also involved in a costly lawsuit challenging Measure B, which is currently on appeal. And, if the Measure B regulations were implemented, this would mean that L.A. taxpayers would be obligated to pay for a new local agency to serve as “condom inspectors” on adult production sets – an expensive proposition overall.

“We predicted that lost jobs and revenue would be one of the results of AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) misguided attempts to police the adult industry,” said Free Speech Coalition CEO Diane Duke. “As a result of the passage of Measure B, hundreds of thousands of dollars in permit fees have gone elsewhere — and that does not take into consideration the jobs and vendor revenues that have followed the productions out of LA County and for some companies, out of the state of California entirely.”


Free Speech Coalition Applauds AHF Employees Protesting Working Conditions

September 27, 2013

more_protesters_AHF_rallyWhile the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) leadership under founder and executive director Michael Weinstein continues a self-aggrandizing publicity tour attacking the adult film industry, his own doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners staged a protest today at AHF offices over poor working conditions and understaffing that has put patients at greater risk.

“Michael Weinstein has been crusading against the adult film industry while the patients under his care and the medical personnel working for him have suffered the brunt of his neglect as he seeks more publicity for himself,” said Diane Duke, chief executive officer for the Free Speech Coalition (FSC). “If Mr. Weinstein paid as much attention to caring for the doctors and nurses working for him and the patients under his supervision as he does every radio and TV appearance, the plight of AIDS patients in Los Angeles County might be much improved.”

The FSC has long maintained that the crusade by AHF and Weinstein against the adult film industry has come at a high price in terms of the care and level of services provided to AIDS patients, especially those from poor, minority communities where AIDS has been the most devastating, Duke said.

The protest by AHF physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants follows a July 31 vote to unionize in an effort to improve working conditions. Among the complaints cited by protesting medical personnel are:

  • Heavy handed policies on patient loads and quotas, some as high as 21 patients a day per doctor
  • A lack of Spanish-speaking translators for patients
  • Patient quota decisions being made by supervisors with no medical backgrounds
  • An increased focus on politics and advocacy while clinics see an increase in urgent-care patients

They allege that Weinstein and the organization’s involvement in politics – notably, AHF’s anti-adult industry mandatory condom campaign, as well as its initiative to create a new health department for the city of Los Angeles – have overrun AHF’s mission of caring for patients.

All of this comes in the wake of an audit in which Los Angeles County alleged AHF overbilled the Department of Public Health by $1.7 million in fiscal year 2008-09.

“The Free Speech Coalition has long maintained that Weinstein is more concerned about headlines than providing real care and like any large healthcare provider, making money and driving fundraising is a very real issue for him, which is why he has used a bogus health issue in condoms in filming to drive his media efforts,” Duke said. “It is clear there is no media interview Weinstein will turn down, but there are apparently plenty of patients that will have to wait longer for care at AHF facilities.”


AHF and Hall’s Mandatory Condom Bill AB640 Dead for This Session

September 13, 2013

bigstock-Condom-packages-18422987FSC is pleased to report that AB640, a bill into the California Legislature that would have mandated adult performers use condoms will not make it out of the 2013 Legislative session.

“Thankfully, science won over scare tactics.” said Diane Duke, CEO of the Free Speech Coalition. “Three performers did test positive for HIV in the past month, but none of them contracted it on an adult set. Politicians tried to use concern about HIV to push through a mandate opposed by both performers and producers. ”

AB 640 had originally been a tobacco bill, but was gutted and amended by Assembly Member Isadore Hall when his original mandatory condom bill, AB332, failed to pass out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“We need to make sure that performers are safe,” said Duke. “We have not had an on-set transmission of HIV in the adult industry in nine years, and we should always be vigilant. But this was a bad bill that would have made things worse.”

The bill rested in the Senate Rules Committee as the 2013 Session of the California State Senate came to a close just after midnight Friday morning.

“A number of people put forth a great deal of effort, to make sure this bill would not see the light of day,” Duke stated.  “From our coalition partners to the performers and countless industry members who showed up in Sacramento to protest, we owe you all a debt of gratitude.  This was truly a team effort, thank you.”


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