The Los Angeles City Council approved a city ordinance Tuesday requiring porn peformers to wear condoms while filming sex scenes, but the measure is unlikely to make the industry or its workers any safer. The 9-1 vote overrides the need for a special election that would have taken place in June (at a cost of $4 million) as council members assumed that voters would overwhelming approve the measure. The rules have been lobbied for by AIDS Healthcare Foundation for the last several years, though porn companies and many performers themselves have protested against the new law that will take effect in 90 days.

While the goal — making actors safer — is commendable, the new law will probably do little to achieve that. For starters, California state law already requires protection whenever any worker might come in contact with bodily fluids, but those rules are rarely if ever enforced. Given the tens of thousands of porn scenes that are filmed in the L.A. area every year, it's hard to image the city being able to do a better job.

Secondly, porn acting is already much safer than most of its critics believe. Given the nature of the work and sheer volume of adult films that are made, the number of confirmed cases of actors contracting HIV in the last two decades is quite low and most were likely infected off set or outside California. Despite the public scares, the rate of infection is actually much lower than the general population, thanks to an industry-wide testing program that requires all performers to confirm their health status before they can work. The testing regime, while not perfect, has done more to protect performers than any other measure and is the best way to keep them safe in the future.

Finally, Los Angeles is not the only place where adult movies can be shot. If regulations become too onerous or unpopular, producers will simply find a new place (legally or illegally) to work, breaking up the tightly-knit community in Southern California and potentially driving the business underground — where things like pay and safety will be even harder to control. That may not bother some L.A. residents who find the adult industry distasteful, but if the true goal of this effort is to keep people safe, then the unintended consequences may actually do more harm to workers. If L.A. truly wants to help, they need to work with the industry to improve testing and enforcement, rather than push their problem off on some other town.

Image by Ducu59us via Shutterstock.