California legislators sent a bill to Governor Gavin Newsom Tuesday that would make California the first state in the U.S. to outlaw the act of “stealthing,” or removing a condom without permission during sex.
AB-453, which passed 73-0 in the Assembly, does not change the existing criminal code but would add stealthing to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery, allowing victims to sue perpetrators punitively for emotional and physical damages, the Associated Press reports.
The bill states that “a person commits a sexual battery who causes contact between a sexual organ, from which a condom has been removed, and the intimate part of another who did not verbally consent to the condom being removed.”
Bell Gardens Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia introduced the bill in March but says she’s been working on the legislation since 2017, when research showed that acts of stealthing against women and gay men were becoming a disturbing trend. Initially, Garcia wanted to make it a crime but legal analysts said it could already be considered misdemeanor sexual battery, and that it was rarely prosecuted due to the difficulty of proving that someone removed a condom intentionally. With this bill, Garcia says, all ambiguity would be removed from the penal code.
The Erotic Service Providers Legal Educational Research Project is backing the proposal, saying it could allow sex workers to sue clients who remove condoms during otherwise consensual sex.
In a statement Tuesday, Garcia said, “It’s disgusting that there are online communities that defend and encourage stealthing and give advice on how to get away with removing the condom without the consent of their partner, but there is nothing in law that makes it clear that this is a crime.”
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