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Los Angeles mandates condoms for porn actors, industry threatens suit

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles County voters passed a ballot initiative mandating that pornographic film actors wear condoms during sex scenes, prompting a trade group on Wednesday to threaten to sue and take production elsewhere.

Measure B, which was sponsored by the group AIDS Healthcare Foundation, won approval on Tuesday by a margin of 55.85 percent to 44.15 percent, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's office.

"This is what democracy looks like; we took this to county government, and they didn't act so we took it directly to the voters, and they spoke conclusively," AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said.

The law requires adult film actors filming in Los Angeles County to use condoms during sex scenes. Most U.S. pornographic productions are made in the county's San Fernando Valley.

Diane Duke, chief executive for the industry group Free Speech Coalition, told Los Angeles County supervisors in a letter on Wednesday that the law was unconstitutional and that it fell under state jurisdiction, not that of local government.

"Therefore, we will file suit and challenge this intolerable law in court," Duke said in the letter. A copy was provided to Reuters.

She said the adult filmmakers had been approached to move elsewhere, adding: "In the upcoming weeks and months, we will provide a roadmap for adult production to move its over a billion dollar industry and its accompanying 10,000 jobs to these welcoming communities."

David Sommers, a spokesman for the Board of Supervisors, declined to respond specifically to the letter, saying he had not read it. He said county health officials were still grappling with the law's implications.

"This type of enforcement is a new thing for us and it's a one-of-a-kind law and so how we move forward with its implementation is a conversation we're just beginning to have given how the voters decided Measure B," he said.

The initiative requires porn producers to get a health permit from Los Angeles County to make their movies showing explicit sex and nudity. Using condoms on set would be a condition of obtaining that permit.

California workplace laws mandate the use of condoms by porn performers, but AIDS Healthcare officials say the statute is not specifically aimed at the industry and is widely violated.

The Free Speech Coalition said in its letter that such requirements would impose "excessive costs of compliance."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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