Canada, having legalized same-sex marriage back in 2005, has moved on to considering—or reconsidering—other kinds of marriage. In British Columbia, the Supreme Court is hearing final arguments this week in a reference case. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) says, as an intervenor, that polygamy ought not necessarily be considered criminal and wants to ensure that laws against polygamy cannot be applied to modern-day polyamorists.
According to Xtra!, a gay and lesbian news source, the polyamorists say the Canadian Criminal Code’s prohibition on polygamy — including any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time — could infringe on their constitutional rights of association, religion, equality, and the life, liberty and security of the person as outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A government lawyer, Craig Jones, said the CPAA’s suggestion that only “harmful” polygamy be banned was perhaps not a terrible idea. But Jones said the lawsuit should be dismissed because all forms of polygamy are harmful.
“Polygamy hurts people,” he said, citing allegations of sexual abuse and child brides being smuggled across borders to marry middle-aged men. "A polygamous society consumes its young … People are harmed by polygamy.”
CPAA lawyer John Ince has said the polygamy law, as written, "is contrary to the Charter and the deepest moral values of Canadians." George Macintosh, a lawyer assigned to argue on behalf of those who oppose the criminalization of polygamy, said “The law ignores casual group sex, but it criminalizes relationships.”
At the cases center, as you might expect, is the government's treatment and prosecution of members of a Mormon sect.
We’re not sure when this discussion is going to break out south of the border, but we’re listening. What do SexIs readers think?
Editor's Note: This article has been edited to reflect nuances and points made in the comments below. We urge readers who are interested in the case to read the comments and check the links.