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California makes it illegal to remove condom during sex without consent, becoming first US state to enact anti-stealthing measure

California makes it illegal to remove condom during sex without consent, becoming first US state to enact anti-stealthing measure
California has become the first US state to prohibit ‘stealthing’ – the practice of removing a condom without verbal consent during sex, in a move that allows victims to sue perpetrators for damages.

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law, making the practice of removing a condom during sex without permission, illegal. The new measure sees the state's civil definition of sexual battery amended, allowing victims of stealthing to seek damages from the perpetrator. 

The move was first proposed by Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia in 2017 in the wake of a Yale University study which claimed acts of stealthing were increasing against both women and gay men.

Speaking on Thursday, Garcia praised the move, “This law is the first of its kind in the nation, but I urge other states to follow in California's direction and make it clear that stealthing is not just immoral but illegal,” she stated.

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It has previously been proposed in New York and Wisconsin.

It has also been suggested that stealthing could already be considered misdemeanor sexual battery. However, the distinction between acting with intent and accidentally removing the condom had made prosecuting difficult.

Supporters of the bill say it could help sex workers sue clients who remove condoms, exposing their victims to potential sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, or unwanted pregnancies.

The California governor also signed into law a bill, proposed by Garcia, making rape of a spouse the same as rape of a non-spouse, removing an exemption to existing law.

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