Suing Porn Stars Will Not Lead to Less HIV

A California ballot initiative would allow the public to sue adult film performers who don't use condoms. Eric Paul Leue of the Free Speech Coalition says Prop. 60 is wrongheaded and dangerous.

CaliforniaBallotProps60

On November 8, Californians will vote on Proposition 60, a ballot initiative that would appear to require condoms in all adult films shot in California. Unfortunately, the measure is not what it seems.

Most voters are unfamiliar with the industry and its workers, so the initiative appears to be an easy victory for progressivism — a one-two punch wherein the porn industry becomes a conduit for safer-sex messaging, while allegedly increasing workplace protection for the performers. But Prop. 60 is anything but progressive. It jeopardises personal privacy and weakens workplace safety for adult film workers by empowering any resident of California to sue adult film performers — even a married couple producing content from their own home.

Prop. 60 is the latest gambit by Michael Weinstein, the controversial founder of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Many may remember Weinstein and AHF for misleading campaigns against PrEP, sex-shaming billboards, and hyperbolic attacks on Grindr, Tinder, and Viagra. But Prop. 60, his fourth attempt to impose new laws on the adult film industry in California, may be the most misguided campaign yet.

Weinstein says he’s targeting “greedy pornographers,” but when it comes to Prop. 60, his most vocal opponents have been the performers themselves. That’s because, under Prop. 60, anyone who produces, sells, or profits from adult films — a group that now includes the majority of performers — will be subject to lawsuits and fines if a condom isn’t visible.

You see, in today’s adult film industry, the majority of performers are also producers. In addition to shooting for studios, most porn stars regularly create their own content — either for their own websites, on webcams, or in partnership with studios. Performers also regularly promote their own scenes — on Twitter or Tumblr, for instance — in exchange for a share of the sales. Under Prop. 60, anyone in California who doesn’t see condoms in an adult film can sue a performer personally and receive a portion of any fine imposed.

As an outspoken member of the LGBTQ community and an HIV activist, I see something frightening in Prop. 60. Imagine stalkers, overzealous fans, angry family members, and LGBTQ hate groups being able to obtain legal names and home addresses of people who are open about their sexuality and gender identity. Performers already face daily privacy invasions, harassment, and discrimination — a law giving a digital mob incentives to patrol sexual behaviour should raise flags with all LGBTQ people everywhere.

This is one of the reasons why the list of those opposing Prop. 60 includes LGBTQ stalwarts like Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Centre, the Transgender Law Centre, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Not to mention both the California Democratic and Republican parties.

Read the full Advocate article here: http://goo.gl/L3XRGC