“Stealthing” to be banned in SA under tough new laws proposed by SA-BEST

13 October 2021

South Australia is set to become only the second jurisdiction in Australia and one of only a handful around the world to criminalise “stealthing” – the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex – under news laws being proposed by SA-BEST. 

SA-BEST MLC and Attorney General spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, will today introduce a Private Member’s Bill – titled the Criminal Law Consolidation (Stealthing) Amendment Bill - legally categorising the vulgar practice as a sexual assault. 

Under the proposed new legislation – depending on the crime committed as a result of stealthing – a maximum penalty of life imprisonment could apply. 

“Stealthing is a repugnant and disgusting act of betrayal, and as such - from a judicial perspective - should be treated by the police and our courts system in the same manner,” Connie said. 

“It should have been criminalised years ago, but hasn’t – that stops today with the new laws I am proposing, which I don’t believe will get much if any opposition from any politician,” she said. 

“Under the new laws I am proposing, the removal of a condom during sex without the consent of the other person will now be a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment. 

“Stealthing is more common than most people believe, with a recent study revealing that one in three women and one in five men who had sex with men had been the victim of stealthing – that’s a shocking statistic! 

“You can’t begin to imagine the level of damage to both a person’s physical and psychological wellbeing. 

“This includes the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and/or disease, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, severe mental health/depression, and in some reported cases, post-traumatic stress disorder. 

“And that doesn’t take into consideration the absolute sense of shock and betrayal of someone who’s agreed to have consensual sex with another person only to have that trust utterly betrayed. 

“Such grotesque acts of indecency deserve to be treated in the same manner as rape and a crime punishable by terms of imprisonment.” 

The Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction in the country to criminalise stealthing passing laws only last week. 

Connie’s proposed Private Member’s Bill amends current consent provisions under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act to explicitly state that a person's consent is negated if it is caused by the misrepresentation by the other person about the use of a condom. 

There are a number of factors that could give rise to the withdrawal of consent during sexual activity – one being the act of stealthing. 

The proposed legislation sets a new precedence to make it abundantly clear to anyone who might think it’s appropriate to remove a condom without the consent of the other person, that this will now be a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment. 

Connie said a study of more than 2000 people in 2018 by Monash University found that one in three women - and one in five men - who had had sex with men had been “stealthed”. 

Connie hoped her proposed new legislation would send a strong message to the community - especially following a rape conviction of a man in New Zealand earlier this year after he removed a condom during sex without the woman's consent which set a new legal precedent in that country. 

“Stealthing is an appalling thing to do to any person – whether they be male or female,” Connie said. 

“The ramifications can be life-changing in so many ways,” she said. 

“It is a violation of dignity and autonomy and we as lawmakers must do all within our powers to ensure the deterrents against offending meet community expectations while also sending a strong and clear message to the community – commit an act of stealth and you could go to prison! 

“If passed by Parliament, the legislation I am proposing will see South Australia become one of the first jurisdictions in the world to implement tough new laws to combat this grotesque issue. 

“Importantly, it also represents an opportunity for the state to once again lead the world with important societal reforms.”

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