FSC Response to AHF Signature Submission to Get Condom Initiative on L.A. County Ballot

May 25, 2012

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) today issued this response to AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s (AHF) earlier announcement (contained in the press release at this link).

AHF reported that they have submitted 360,000 petition signatures in a continuing effort to mandate the use of condoms on adult production sets in Los Angeles County.

FSC’s response is as follows:

Today AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced that they have gathered 360,000 signatures to put a mandatory condom measure on the LA County ballot for November.  What this announcement really means is that they have spent upwards of two million dollars on paid signature gatherers to get a useless bill in front of LA County voters. It is important that LA County voters understand the real issue behind AHF’s push for this unnecessary ballot measure.

In their press release, AHF stated that “the Measure is modeled on County’s health permit process for tattoo and massage parlors and bathhouses.” The big difference with the adult film industry is that contact with the public occurs through television, computers and smart phones. There is no direct contact with the public so how can this be a public health issue?

A 152-page epidemiological profile on HIV/AIDS was distributed by the LA County in 2010. The sole purpose of the document was to provide guidance to LA County and non-profit organizations on the best use of their resources concerning HIV in LA County.  Nowhere in that report are adult productions even mentioned. The report does identify the Latino population, African Americans, the un-insured, the under-insured and people in poverty, as areas of concern for HIV and targets for HIV resources.  Imagine how many people could have been served with the millions AHF has already wasted on this ballot measure. Imagine how many will go unserved if the County is forced to waste its limited HIV resources on a problem that doesn’t exist.

Since 2008, 6300 new cases of HIV have been reported in LA County.  None of the 6300 cases have occurred on an adult set.  The rigorous testing protocols in place have resulted in a zero onset transmission of HIV for the past 8 years!  One concern raised in the County’s epidemiological profile is the number of people in LA County who are walking around with HIV but are untested. Testing every 28 days, adult performers are the most tested population in LA County.

There are a number of nonprofit organizations that provide excellent education and services for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Unfortunately AIDS Healthcare Foundation has lost its service focus and is now in the HIV “business” and will do or say anything to increase their fame and fortune. The County Condom measure is just their next and the latest “business” opportunity.

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Pink Cross Foundation)

Ms. Duke Goes to Washington

May 23, 2012

FSC Executive Director visited Washington D.C. this week, to lobby legislators on behalf of the adult entertainment industry.

L.A. Condom Ordinance: Council Refers Implementation Plan Development to Arts, Parks, Health & Aging Committee

May 23, 2012

Free Speech Coalition (FSC) was notified today by the L.A. City Administrator’s Office that the L.A. City Council has referred development of enforcement strategy for the city condom ordinance to the Arts, Parks, Health & Aging Committee.

Until recently, the development of an implementation and enforcement strategy had been charged to the City Administrator-appointed Working Group on the City of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Ordinance. At the last meeting of the working group on May 11, the group postponed submitting the results of a report that would have recommended protocols for enforcing condom use on adult productions.

A few days later, it was widely reported that the working group had requested a 90-day extension of presenting the results of the report.

It is unclear why the issue has been referred to the Arts, Parks, Health & Aging Committee. That committee is made up of three L.A. City Council members, including Councilmen Richard Alarcon (7th District), Tom LaBonge (4th District) and Ed P. Reyes (1st District).

FSC, as the adult industry trade association, will continue to aggressively provide input, to make sure the best interests of the industry are represented to city officials.

“This is an issue of great importance to the industry and Los Angeles taxpayers,” said FSC Executive Director Diane Duke. “City officials need to hear adult industry members concerns around the condom ordinance.”

“Meanwhile, AIDS Healthcare Foundation continues to spend millions on collecting signatures to put the condom ordinance on the L.A. County ballot in November,” Duke added. “There have been no transmissions of HIV on and adult production set since 2004. In a lawsuit filed by AHF against L.A. County, the County already established that adult productions pose no threat to public health.  AHF’s efforts not only squander donor funds that could be utilized for the prevention and treatment of HIV, but also waste valuable tax dollars that are desperately needed elsewhere.”

(Photo: Some rights reserved by D.C.Atty)

Working Group Postpones Results of Report on Condom Ordinance Enforcement

May 11, 2012

At the City Administrator’s office this morning, the Working Group on the City of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Ordinance met to review a report on enforcement strategy for condom ordinance on adult sets.

The meeting was started and it was announced that the Working Group report on enforcement was not ready and that another meeting would be scheduled next week, when the report should be completed. Despite the postponement, a public commentary period was allowed.

Adult industry members that attended the meeting included Immoral Productions owner/producer Dan Leal, industry attorneys Michael Fattarosi and Allan Gelbard, FSC Executive Director Diane Duke and Membership/Communications Director Joanne Cachapero.

Among those in the Working Group were representatives from L.A. Fire Department, Film L.A.,  the city council, the city attorney’s office and the department of public health. L.A. Police Department and Cal-OSHA representatives were absent.

During the public commentary period, Leal reported a situation that occurred last night on a webcam shoot for Immoral Productions. Leal said Los Angeles police had visited the set and that a citation had been issued to the camera operator (an independent contractor), for shooting a commercial production without a permit. Leal requested for the group to clarify if permits where required for any commercial shoot, even including a husband and wife that might produce amateur webcam content for profit in their home.

Leal and those present were informed that permits are required for any commercial production that is not shot on a soundstage.

FSC’s Duke then spoke, pointing out that the adult industry should not be treated differently than other entertainment media, based on sexually explicit content.

“You deal with film permits everyday,” Duke said, “but if the adult industry is going to be treated differently, then we have a problem with that.”

She went further to explain that an ordinance applied specifically to the adult industry would put the industry in a position to experience other forms of discrimination and censorship.

At that point, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) representative Mark McGrath was allowed to speak on behalf of the HIV nonprofit organization that is behind the push to enforce mandatory condom law.

He called the adult entertainment industry an “outlaw” industry, and said the industry had been violating condom regulations all along. He said that it was time for the industry to have a “modicum of corporate citizenship,” in regards to condom use. And he also stated that the city should call for RFPs (request for proposal), in order to establish contracts for enforcement staffing.

Speaking last, industry attorney Gelbard talked about the constitutionality of the condom ordinance.

“One point is very clear,” Gelbard said. “The statute is unconstitutional.”

He cited case law, referring to cases including Freeman v. California, and precedents establishing the legal and First Amendment protections for the adult industry. On the issue of freedom of expression, Gelbard noted that producers cannot be compelled to send a “safe sex message,” because this would infringe on the producer’s right of expression. He also called the ordinance “content-based” and assured the group that the ordinance would not withstand closer scrutiny in court.

The meeting was adjourned shortly after the commentary period. The next and final meeting of the Working Group will be scheduled for next week.

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Josef325)

APHSS.org Announces it Will Accept PCR/RNA Tests

May 9, 2012

Due to concerns raised over what type of HIV tests are acceptable and appropriate for monthly performer screenings, APHSS.org has announced that it will accept two different brands of HIV tests.

For years, our industry utilized PCR-DNA as the off-label standard HIV test for performers. Although not sanctioned by the FDA for diagnosis, the medical professionals at AIM chose this test because it was the best test to determine the presence of HIV — especially for acute infections.

After considerable research and contact with infectious disease specialists, pathologists and physicians, APHSS.org has identified two tests that best meet the needs of the performer population. They are the Aptima HIV-1 RNA Qualitative Assay and the Abbot RealTime HIV 1 Assay.

The Aptima HIV-1 RNA Qualitative test is approved by the FDA for diagnosis and detection of acute (early) HIV infection.

The Abbot RealTime HIV 1 Assay is FDA-approved for determining viral load.  Medical experts have assured APHSS.org that the Abbot test is a good option for determining the presence of HIV for adult performers.

“After speaking with a number of medical professionals, it was clear to us that both tests will be a significant improvement over the PCR DNA,” said Diane Duke FSC Executive Director.  “Some of the experts prefer the Abbot test and some prefer the Aptima test. All agreed that both tests are effective for our purposes.”

For some HIV tests, the “window period” – the time between the point of infection until the virus is detectable – has decreased to as little as 9-to-11 days. And, tests have become increasingly sensitive, thus increasing the accuracy of test results.

Both the Abbot and Aptima tests have the 9-to-11 day window. While the Aptima test is sanctioned by the FDA for detection and diagnosis, use of the Abbot test has also been identified by experts as an excellent option for the industry because of the doctor’s ability to know the value of the viral load.

Beginning May 15th all APHSS testing sites will utilize either the Abbot or Aptima PCR RNA tests.

If you need more information on APHSS.org or performer testing, please contact diane@freespeechcoalition.com. APHSS.org is administered by Free Speech Coalition (FSC).

(Graphic: Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Association)

FSC Meets With L.A. City Administrator to Discuss Condom Ordinance

May 4, 2012

FSC Executive Director Diane Duke and FSC Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas met today with Los Angeles City Administrator Miguel Santana and his staff to discuss the recently enacted condom ordinance for adult industry productions.

Duke and Douglas listened to the City Administrator’s thoughts on the ordinance in general and the complications inherent in its implementation and enforcement specifically.  FSC discussed constitutional issues raised by the ordinance and voiced concern over the potential for government overreach in its enforcement.

According to Duke, the meeting was very successful.

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with the City Administrator, to communicate the industry’s concerns, and to receive information and clarification about the City’s options for moving forward,” she said.

In January, the condom ordinance for adult industry productions was signed into law by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and went into effect on March 5. The L.A. City Council directed the City Administrator’s Office (CAO) to organize the Adult Film Industry Working Group as the entity responsible for creating an implementation structure for the condom ordinance.

According to CAO staff, the next meeting of that working group will be Friday, May 11th.

Condom Ordinance Update – Part One

May 2, 2012

This is the first of a three-part series designed to clarify the mandatory condom regulation activity in the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and the state of California. The purpose of this series is to provide up-to-date information to FSC Members and the industry at large: information on the status of current regulations, anticipated regulatory activity, and FSC plans for opposition.

What is the Status of the LA City Mandatory Condom Ordinance for Adult Productions?

Early in 2011, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) brought the issue before the Los Angeles City Council. The council voted down the proposed regulation because the City Attorney deemed that it was a state issue and that the city had no jurisdiction. On July 20, 2011, in an unprecedented act, CalOSHA sent a letter to the city of Los Angeles stating that the city does have jurisdiction because the city “does not seek to enact an occupational health and safety standard but rather a public health standard applicable to any film activity (regardless of employment relationship) within the city boundaries”.

On Thursday December 1, 2011, AHF submitted 70,000 signatures to the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office to put an initiative on the June ballot that would tie the provision of film permits with a regulation mandating condoms on adult production sites. It is estimated that AHF spent at least $350,000 for paid signature gatherers to get the initiative on the ballot.

Late December of 2011, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed suit against AHF arguing that putting the proposed initiative on the ballot would be too costly for the City–$4.4 million. Furthermore, the City Attorney argued that the initiative would be a waste of taxpayer funds because the jurisdiction rests at the state level and that the initiative is likely unconstitutional.

On January 10, 2012, the LA City Council chose to bypass the ballot and passed a city ordinance that ties the provision of film permits with the mandatory use of condoms on adult production sites. To clarify the contents of the ordinance, the ordinance applies to offsite shoots; shoots in sound stage do not fall under this regulation. There are no “adult” film permits, only film permits that include nudity. Film LA—the entity that grants permits—reports that it grants approximately 40 permits for shoots that contain nudity per month and many of those are permits for mainstream productions.

On Monday January 23, 2012, LA Mayor Villaraigosa signed the ordinance into law. The law went “into effect” March 5th. The City Administrator’s Office (CAO) has been tasked with developing a process for implementation.

The CAO has held two work group meetings gathering information from the Fire and Police departments as well as FILM LA. All of these entities reported that they do not have a structure set up that is conducive for this type of regulatory monitoring and enforcement. Moreover, FILM LA, FSC Board Chair Jeffrey Douglas and industry attorney Michael Fattorosi pointed out a number of Constitutional concerns with content-based enforcement.

At the last work group meeting, the City Administrator said that they will have another meeting of the work group prior to the May 16th City Council meeting where the CAO is supposed to report the results of the work group. As of this writing, no meeting of the work group is scheduled. Realistically, no prosecutions can take place until the City has developed a clear plan for implementation and a means of enforcement.

FSC will be at the upcoming meetings, speaking up for the industry. Additionally, FSC will continue to monitor the situation and update the industry as developments take place.

Stay tuned for part two where we will discuss the proposed LA County ordinance.

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