Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee has received a prestigious American award for her work last year making the ACT the first Australian jurisdiction to criminalise stealthing (the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex).
Ms Lee was given the award at a ceremony at the Australian National University’s College of Law on Wednesday.
Ms Lee said she was “incredibly humbled” to be recognised internationally for the stealthing legislation.
“This award is dedicated to the brave women and men who told me about their experiences with stealthing that was the inspiration for my bill,” she said.
Presenting the award, ANU’s Associate Professor Dr Heather Roberts said Ms Lee’s bill was “at the forefront” of the ACT’s project of reforming consent laws in relation to sexual intercourse. (A policy led by ACT Labor MLA and fellow former ANU academic Dr Marisa Paterson.) It sent “a clear message to the Territory that stealthing is not OK, and that it is assault”.
“There is significant research as to the physical and psychological harm of stealthing and the fact that the practice has a disproportionate impact on women,” Dr Roberts said.
Labor and the Greens supported Ms Lee’s stealthing bill.
Ms Lee thanked Dr Roberts and WALS president Amy Azzopardi for their support and for giving her this honour.
“[Ms Lee] is a trailblazer both as a woman and Asian-Australian in Parliament, who strives to use her position to make it easier for those who come after her, and to make lives better for those who do not have a voice,” Dr Roberts said.
Ms Lee is the first Asian-Australian woman to become Opposition Leader in any Australian state or territory parliament. A graduate of ANU, Ms Lee showed her “passion for justice and using the power and privilege of a legal education for social justice”, Dr Roberts said.
Ms Lee was “a leading voice for improving local schools, protecting the environment [she went to COP26 in Glasgow last year], and providing better support for Canberrans living with a disability, and Canberrans from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. She also spoke out about her own #metoo moment as a young lawyer who was sexually harassed by a prominent male Judge.