Porn Bill on Wrong Track, Attorney Says

Rhett Pardon
SACRAMENTO – On the eve of a legislative panel beginning dialogue on how to regulate sexually transmitted diseases in the porn industry, Free Speech Coalition lawyer Jeffrey Douglas blasted a bill that could crimp the industry.

“This bill has nothing good to say,” Douglas told XBiz. “Without any conversation with the adult industry and no support from county health agencies or OSHA, the bill is a return to unpleasant times.

“The way the bill is written, it uses the wrong kinds of [STD] tests,” said Douglas, a board member of the adult entertainment industry trade association.

The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday will hear Assembly Bill 2798, where it will weigh whether to mandate STD testing of all performers before production on an adult film can begin.

Last month, three adult actors tested positive for the virus which causes AIDS.

The legislation, authored by Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, would also require that performers be tested for HIV every two weeks and would provide recourse of civil action if a test is falsified.

The adult film industry already requires its talent to be tested for HIV every 30 days. But the requirement works on the honor system.

A mandatory condom requirement could be added to the bill when it goes before the committee Tuesday, a stipulation that many in the industry argue would increase health risks by pushing some producers underground.

That, Douglas said, would be a mistake.

“You don’t want to give the industry a reason to go underground,” said Douglas, a Santa Monica, Calif., attorney. “The [Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation] has a successful testing regime and they’re providing something that no one else will provide.”

Douglas said that it “defies imagination” just how safe the industry is.

“When you look at the statistics, you see an extremely sexually active community of 1,200 individuals between 18 and 35 where 2.8 percent test positive for STDs, while the general public checks in at 7 percent,” he said. “And you have a community here that can contain itself.”

Leslie, the bill’s author, passed up an opportunity to meet with the Free Speech Coalition when they were in Sacramento last week, said Kat Sunlove, the group’s executive director.

She said the bill is a headline-grabber that would lower health standards.

"This bill was not developed in any way that reflects a real desire to come up with good public policy," Sunlove said.

Leslie did not return calls from XBiz.