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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2935 ..

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Crimes (Stealthing) Amendment Bill 2021

Debate resumed from 22 April 2021, on motion by Ms Lee:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (5.22): I am pleased to speak in support of the Crimes (Stealthing) Amendment Bill 2021 introduced by Ms Lee. This bill helps to put beyond doubt that which we know: non-consensual condom removal during sex is rape. It is not acceptable. It is a violation of trust and of bodily integrity.

The definition of consent in the Crimes Act is critical to the effectiveness of a range of sexual offence provisions in holding offenders to account. The definition of consent warrants examination to ensure that it reflects contemporary understandings of this key concept in the context of sexual acts and behaviours.

Consideration of the ACT’s sexual offence laws, including the definition of consent, is one of the tasks that the ACT has given to the sexual assault prevention and response initiative established by Minister Berry. As part of this initiative, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee is working across sectors to identify key priorities for improving the ACT’s measures to prevent, and respond to, sexual assault.

Approaching that work in such a way allows for our community to take a broad view on how we improve safety and wellbeing in Canberra. We get a better outcome when we do not approach law—and individual laws—in isolation, and instead consider the law as one of many tools to improve our community. That being said, when particular issues are raised, it is our duty to give them proper consideration. While that broader work will continue, and may result in recommendations for further reforms to the definition of consent, this bill intends immediately to address one particular issue by putting beyond doubt that non-consensual condom removal, colloquially referred to as “stealthing”, is an offence.

A recent study carried out in partnership between the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Monash University indicates that misrepresentation about the use of condoms during sexual activity is, unfortunately, both common and harmful. Stealthing poses serious risks to a person’s physical and mental health, including through the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy and psychological harm. It is appropriate that our legislation reflects that this behaviour negates consent.

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