On Monday, British Columbia’s Supreme Court took up the matter of whether Canada’s ban on polygamy is unconstitutional. An 1890′s law prohibiting the practice of plural marriage has been challenged as violating the freedom of religion and association guarantee as spelled out in the Charter of Rights.
What’s At Stake?
B.C.’s Attorney General has asked the court to answer two questions. First, is Canada’s prohibition of polygamy legal and if so, are all polygamous unions illegal or only those that involve minors or exploitation.
Those in favor and those opposed are watching the case closely and the court’s decision will not likely be the last word on the subject.
Protection of Women and Children
Groups opposed to polygamy view the current status quo as an important protection for women and children, but B.C. Civil Liberties lawyer Monique Pongracic-Speier points out that adults in Canada have the Charter protected right to form families as they see fit.
This hearing follows on the heels of the unsuccessful prosecution of two fundamentalist Mormon leaders in Bountiful, B.C., in 2009. If the court rules against the current law, Canada will become the first country in the world to decriminalize polygamy and could possible open the doors for legalization in some form.
What Do You Think?
Do adults have the right to from polygamist unions without interference from the State? When do the interests of the community at large trump the individual’s personal or religious beliefs?
photo credit: Nick Dabbles with Polygamy by mockney_piers