No appeal in polygamy case

Lawyer George Macintosh (L), court appointed lawyer for pro-polygamist groups, stands outside the...

Lawyer George Macintosh (L), court appointed lawyer for pro-polygamist groups, stands outside the B.C Supreme Court in Vancouver November 23, 2011. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)

Stephanie Ip, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 PM ET

A lawyer who argued to decriminalize polygamy will not be appealing the court’s decision to uphold Canada’s 120-year-old anti-polygamy law, it was announced Wednesday.

“A legal publication suggested recently that (lawyer George Macintosh) had decided to appeal. That report was erroneous,” a statement released by his office said.

The announcement came as a surprise as many expected Macintosh to appeal the ruling.

Previously, the court-appointed amicus curiae – a Latin term meaning impartial advisor – had said if all parties consented, an appeal would be pursued to dispute the constitutionality of certain sections of the law, but not the facts already established in the initial ruling.

“The issue wouldn’t be whether the conduct complained of is harmful because much of the conduct clearly is harmful,” Macintosh said in November following the B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

However, attorneys general at federal and provincial levels still have the power to revisit the case in court if they choose.

The ruling, issued in late November by Justice Robert Bauman, found polygamy was still harmful to children and women and they far outweighed the religious freedoms of Mormons.

Bauman added the law was unconstitutional when used to prosecute children under 18 since they’re most at risk in situations of polygamy.

In his original findings, he said women in polygamous marriages are at a higher risk of physical and psychological harm, domestic violence and abuse, and sexual abuse. Competition between co-wives for a husband’s attention also leads to depression and mental health issues, low self-esteem and marital dissatisfaction. Young brides also suffer health issues from early sexual activity and pregnancies.

Children in polygamous families are also known to suffer emotional, behavioural and physical problems and have higher infant mortality rates and lower educational.


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