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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Canberra Liberals leader moves to make stealthing illegal

A bill to explicitly outlaw stealthing, the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex, will today be presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly by Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee.

The issue of stealthing is a relatively new area within criminal law, and it is unclear whether it is illegal in the ACT, according to Ms Lee.

She said the bill was an opportunity for the ACT to legislate proactively and be at the forefront of reform.

Elizabeth Lee MLA says stealthing is a violation of dignity and autonomy. Image: Kerrie Brewer

“Stealthing risks both physical and psychological health, including the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and disease, unplanned pregnancies, depression, anxiety and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder,” she said.

“It is an appalling thing to do to any woman; any man; any person.

“Stealthing completely erodes the trust that a person can put in someone during the most vulnerable of moments.

“It is a violation of dignity and autonomy.”

The Leader of the Opposition will propose an amendment to the Crimes Act to define stealthing as “a factor that negates consent”.

“This Bill is about making our laws clearer, our community safer, and making our voice loud and clear that no means no.”

A man was recently convicted of rape in New Zealand after removing a condom during sex without consent from the other person engaged in intercourse.

The conviction set a precedent of recognising stealthing in criminal law in New Zealand, Ms Lee said.

“And with my bill, we too can make it clear that stealthing will and should be illegal in the ACT.”

One in three women and nearly one in five men in Australia have reported being ‘stealthed’, according to a 2018 joint study by the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Monash University.

The research focussed on two categories of patients at the sexual health centre, heterosexual women and men who have sex with men.

The study found only 1% of respondents reported stealthing incidents to police, and participants who had experienced stealthing were three times less likely to consider it to be sexual assault than those who had not.

“In young adult heterosexual relations, it is common for male partners to engage in condom resistance tactics,” the Monash report said.

The study found women who had experienced incidents of stealthing were more likely to be employed in sex work.

Men who were stealthed while having sex with a male were more likely to report anxiety or depression. 

“Studies of undergraduate students have found consent for sexual intercourse to be mostly communicated through non-verbal means, with consent for sexual intercourse often implied in the process of asking for or applying a condom,” the report said.

For more ACT politics:

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