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Officials Gain New Power on Bathhouse Sex

Gov. George Deukmejian on Friday signed legislation expanding the power of local health officials to shut bathhouses where there is evidence of high-risk sexual behavior that could spread the AIDS virus.

The bill is intended to bolster enforcement of local bathhouse regulations adopted in Los Angeles, San Diego and other communities where the incidence of AIDS has been on the rise.

In Los Angeles, there are 12 licensed bathhouses still operating, but that is less than half the number that operated before the AIDS outbreak.

The Los Angeles County ordinance, which bans anal and oral sex in bathhouses, is being challenged in court by the owners of two bathhouses in Hollywood and the Silver Lake area.

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The new state law allows local officials to shut the facilities if they can produce evidence on a case-by-case basis that their owners or managers are encouraging or permitting high-risk behavior.


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