Polygamy In Canada
November 22, 2011 by staff
Polygamy In Canada, The husbands and wives in the isolated polygamous commune of Bountiful, B.C., are about to learn whether the 121-year-old law that has overshadowed their lives violates their religious freedoms.
A British Columbia judge will rule Wednesday whether Canada’s anti-polygamy law is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s a case that will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The court was asked to weigh the constitutionality of the Criminal Code section banning polygamy after the failed prosecution of two religious leaders in Bountiful, where residents believe multiple marriage will allow them to reach the highest level of heaven.
The hearings included testimony from academic experts, former polygamist women and current plural wives. The case has focused an unprecedented public spotlight on an isolated community of about 1,000 residents, who have been investigated numerous times during the past two decades but have so far avoided prosecution.
In Bountiful, residents hope the long legal process will mean they will one day be left alone.
“Naturally, we hope that our charter rights will be protected,” Winston Blackmore, who leads one of two divided factions within Bountiful, wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.
“It would be nice to not have discrimination and persecution from the government. It would certainly be nice to have the same charter protection as everyone else.”
Blackmore was charged in 2009 with one count of practising polygamy, as was James Oler, who leads the other faction inside Bountiful.
A judge later threw out the charges after concluding the way the province chose its prosecutors violated the men’s rights, prompting the government to launch the current constitutional reference case.
Bountiful residents follow the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, which holds polygamy as a tenet of the faith. The mainstream Mormon church renounced polygamy more than a century ago.
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