California lawmakers moved to make it the first state to outlaw theft, which is removing condoms without permission during intercourse. Legislators sent Governor Gavin Newsom a bill Tuesday that adds the act to the state’s civil definition of sexual battery. This makes it illegal to remove the condom without obtaining oral consent.
But it does not change the criminal code. Instead, it would amend the Civil Code so that the victim could sue the offender for damages, including punitive damages.
Democratic Assemblywoman Christina Garcia has been pushing for the law since 2017, when a Yale University study said incidents of theft against both women and gay men were on the rise. Her original bill attempted to make it a crime.
But legislative analysts said at the time that the act could already be considered misdemeanor sexual battery, even though it was not specifically referred to in the criminal code. But analysts said it is rarely prosecuted, if only because of the difficulty of proving that the perpetrator acted intentionally rather than acted in error.
Analysts this year said Garcia’s bill would remove any ambiguity in the civil law. Garcia said the act could cause long-term physical and emotional harm to victims.
Lawmakers in New York and Wisconsin had previously proposed related legislation, but Garcia said California would be the first country to make it illegal. His bill passed without opposition in California this year.
It’s disgusting that there are online communities that defend and encourage theft and offer advice on how to remove a condom without your partner’s consent, but there’s nothing in the law that makes it clear that it A crime,” Garcia said in testimony.
Her bill is backed by the erotic services provider Legal Educational Research Project, which says it could allow sex workers to sue clients who remove condoms during otherwise consensual sex.
Also on Tuesday, the state Senate deemed the rape of one spouse to be the same as the rape of a non-spouse. The Bill removes the exemption from the rape law if the victim is married to an offender.
California is one of 11 states that differentiate between spousal rape and other forms of sexual assault. Supporters of the bill said the distinction dates back to the time when women were expected to obey their husbands.
Those convicted of raping spouses may currently be eligible for probation rather than jail or prison, although there is no difference in the maximum penalty. People convicted of raping a spouse must also register as sex offenders if the act involves the use of force or violence and the spouse has been sentenced to a state prison.
Bill passed, 36-0. It returns to the Assembly on Friday for a final vote before lawmakers adjourning it for the year.