Polygamy & Human Rights

Section 293 of the Canadian Criminal Code states:

293. (1) Every one who
(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into
(i) any form of polygamy, or
(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time,
whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or
(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii),
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.
[. . .]
(2) Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 257.

The Attorney General of British Columbia [Wally Oppal] yesterday laid charges  under this section against Winston Blackmore of Bountiful, B.C. for

running the equivalent of a wife farm in the province’s southeastern corner. And Wally Oppal has a point about keeping laws on the books you never plan to use: “If that section is invalid by virtue of freedom of religion,” he said, “we should let some court decide that.”
[. . .]
If challenged, the Crown has plenty of legal ammunition with which to protect the law, namely: that polygamy as practised in Bountiful, B.C. and almost anywhere else in the world militates against the notion of gender equality; that children in polygamous communities may be exposed to harm; that allowing it would make common law as it relates to marriage, divorce, child custody, taxation and property impracticable.


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