California could soon become the first state to outlaw “stealthing”, the vile practice of removing a condom during sex without verbal consent.
A bill introduced by California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has passed both houses of the state’s legislature, and would make non-consensual condom removal a civil offense.
The bill was sent to governor Gavin Newsom’s desk on Tuesday (7 September) that would add the act to California’s civil definition of sexual battery.
The proposed bill, AB 453, would allow victims to sue perpetrators who removed a condom without verbal consent for damages, including punitive damages. Because the bill makes stealthing a civil offense, not a crime, it does not create the possibility that perpetrators will serve prison time. Instead, it makes them liable for fines and penalties if their victims prevail in court.
Similar bills on stealthing have previously been introduced in New York and Wisconsin, but neither passed.
A 2019 survey on stealthing found that men who engaged in the practice were much more likely to be infected with an STD than men who didn’t (at a rate of 29.5% to 15.1%) and were much more likely to have sired an unintended pregnancy (at a rate of 46.7% to 25.8%).
If this bill passes it would not only benefit the LGBTQ+ community but every individual who has sex with men. Both gay men and heterosexual woman have been victims to stealthing which poses high-stakes material risks to victims, as well as deeply felt harms to their dignity.