Roundtable to Tackle National ‘Stealthing’ Laws with Sexual Consent Advocates

Attorneys-General and Shadow AGs from around Australia are invited to participate in a roundtable on Thursday with legal experts and academics to tackle the damaging practice of ‘stealthing’, convened by sexual consent advocate Chanel Contos, the inaugural director of the Australia Institute’s newly established Centre for Sex & Gender Equality.

The roundtable is aimed at developing nationally consistent laws to make ‘stealthing’ illegal and to improve community awareness about sexual safety and consent.

 Key Points:

  • Stealthing is the practice of non-consensual removal of a condom during sex
  • While stealthing is a crime in the ACT and Tasmania, it is not in other states and territories
  • Attorneys-General and Shadow AGs are invited to attend a law reform roundtable to stamp out stealthing nationally
  • Roundtable participants include:
    • NSW Labor Shadow AG Michael Daley MP, QLD Liberal Shadow AG Tim Nicholls MP, TAS Labor Shadow AG Ella Haddad MP, ACT Liberal Shadow AG Peter Cain MLA, and representatives for the WA and SA Attorneys-General and Commonwealth Shadow Attorney-General
    • ACT Supreme Court Judge Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson
    • Canberra Liberals and ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee MLA who introduced nation-leading legislation which resulted in the ACT criminalising stealthing
  • The NSW affirmative consent reforms which came into effect on 1 June 2022 introduced a new definition of consent which contains a sub-section with a note related to stealthing
  • Two reviews in Victoria and Queensland have also recommended that stealthing be criminalised, but legislation has not yet been implemented

“I am incredibly proud that the ACT has passed nation-leading laws to specifically to criminalise stealthing. Stealthing is a traumatic thing for anyone to go through; it is a gross breach of trust during an incredibly vulnerable time and can have massive physical, psychological, and emotionally impacts,” said Elizabeth Lee MLA, ACT Opposition Leader and Leader of the Canberra Liberals.

“I hope my legislation will act as a good model for other jurisdictions to review their current laws and bring forward their own reform to specifically criminalise stealthing,” Ms Lee said.

“Stealthing is sexual assault, but we need uniform, effective laws in every state and territory to make that crystal clear and to improve public awareness about consent,” said Chanel Contos, Director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Sex & Gender Equality.

“I’ve been contacted by many women and young people who have shared their experience of this violating practice. They are calling for national law reform, and a public education campaign to increase deterrence and awareness.

“I’ve even been contacted by young men who have admitted to doing this, not knowing that it was wrong, and regretting it now.

“Stealthing should be a crime everywhere, and we should be looking to Tasmania and the ACT to set the standard of these laws. This roundtable represents a clear path forward to tackle stealthing nationally.”

Comments from victims of stealthing who will be sharing their stories at the Roundtable:

“It was only when the doctor asked me if I wanted any support service resources and if I was planning on reporting this that I realised I’d been sexually assaulted, but not in a way that was supported by law. In a gross dismissal of bodily autonomy.” – Anonymous, 22. 

“I didn’t know then what had happened was rape, just that something bad had happened” – Abbie, 39 (26 when this incident happened)

“If stealthing was criminalised at the time of my incident, it would have provided me with the opportunity to take control of a situation where I had none.” – Elena, 24.