Polyamorists Strive for Future Legal Recognition as National Convention Wraps Up

By Luk, Vivian | The Canadian Press, June 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Polyamorists Strive for Future Legal Recognition as National Convention Wraps Up


Luk, Vivian, The Canadian Press


Polyamorists strive for legal recognition

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VANCOUVER - While Canada's polyamorists -- people with multiple partners outside a religious context -- do not face criminalization as do polygamists, it is not enough for them to be considered "just not illegal," they said on Sunday.

As the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association wrapped up its three-day convention, the first of it's kind to be held in Canada, the association's director and conference chair Zoe Duff said polyamorists hope to one day gain the same legal recognition as other couples.

"It would be nice...to have households where our spouses are equal under the law, and moving forward in terms of pensions, and inheritances and property division," she said.

Unlike polygamy, there is no law in Canada that specifically bans polyamory. Polyamorists also distinguish themselves from polygamists, saying that while polygamy consists of men taking multiple wives usually within a religious context, polyamory is consensual, secular and egalitarian.

"There's informed consent between the partners, so you can have multiple partners but they all know what's going on, they most often know each other," said Duff. "There's back-and-forth input in terms of what people are comfortable with at the get go. None of that will be found in polygamy at all."

Polyamory came to the forefront in 2011, when B.C. Supreme Court upheld Canada's polygamy law after the province launched a constitutional reference case to clarify the law. At the time, the polyamory community was worried it would be targeted if the law was upheld.

The constitutionality case was prompted after polygamy charges against two leaders of divided factions of the Mormon sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, were thrown out in 2009.

The sect, prominent in the tiny community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C., condones polygamy. However, prosecution against the two rival leaders, Winston Blackmore and James Oler, failed because the court ruled that their rights were violated when the government chose its prosecutors.

Two years later, B.C. Supreme Court concluded that even though the ban against polygamy infringes on religious freedoms, the harms associated with the practice, such as child brides and sexual abuse, outweigh those rights. …

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