LOS ANGELES — The Free Speech Coalition this afternoon issued a statement about today’s decision by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to approve a new film permit fee structure for adult productions.
The FSC, the trade group for the industry, said the following:
We are deeply troubled by the vote today by the Board of Supervisors to approve a Measure B permit structure drafted by those without any knowledge of the adult industry, and over the objections of the performers it seeks to protect. Make no mistake: this is terrible health policy, rushed through under political pressure.
Anyone filming adult content in Los Angeles is now required to pay a $1,671 health permit fee, undergo sexual health training, and mandate that performers wear condoms. Anyone who fails to comply with those strictures faces $1,000 fine, and up to six months in jail.
Despite having five years to formulate a plan and work with stakeholders, the Department of Public Health submitted the proposal to the Board of Supervisors just over a month ago, without consulting performers or alerting the industry to the opportunity to provide public comment. This is not surprising — Dr. Ferrer, the new head of the Department of Public Health, sat during the proceedings with AHF, the controversial organization that put Measure B on the ballot.
What we saw today from both Dr. Ferrer and AHF was disgraceful. Dr. Ferrer ignored performers when they attempted to make public comment, and performers were heckled and shouted at by members of the AHF contingent. One performer was called a whore. Make no mistake: like Measure B, this vote was done based on bias and ignorance, an attempt by moralists to punish an already stigmatized minority.
It did not have to be like this.
The Free Speech Coalition, along with performers and performer advocates, have been requesting a meeting with the Department of Public Health for over six months. They only finally agreed to meet with us last week. We are not opposed to permit fees, nor condoms. We are not currently contesting Measure B. Instead, we have offered multiple proposals which we believe would encourage compliance with the law, and better health outcomes.
In the five years since the passage of Measure B, prevention science has advanced dramatically. Protocols like PrEP now help us guard against HIV infection; increased and more effective testing systems help prevent HIV/STIs. The industry’s PASS testing system — a system designed to encourage compliance, and further sexual health — now tests performers every two weeks for a full slate of STIs, including HIV RNA, Hepatitis C Antibodies, Hepatitis B Antigen, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Trichomoniasis.
We asked the Department of Health to work with us and our systems to develop health safeguards and a permitting system that would be holistic, rather than punitive. To work with performers to develop systems to make sure the industry is shooting legally, and to bring production back to Los Angeles County.
Instead, Los Angeles County has adopted a scheme that criminalizes adult production, and provides incentives for those shooting outside the County or in the shadows. This is a worst-case scenario, not only for the performers whose health and well-being it will endanger, but for Los Angeles County public health policy.
“Despite today’s vote, we will continue to fight for the rights of performers,” said Eric Paul Leue, FSC’s executive director, “This was one battle in an ongoing struggle for science over stigma, and facts over fear. We will continue to fight for solutions that increase, not decrease workplace safety for adult performers.”