Greens may push to decriminalize polygamy

LAURA PAYTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:12 PM ET

TORONTO - The Green Party of Canada will consider a motion Sunday on whether or not they will push to decriminalize polygamy.

Party members in a workshop on Saturday evening voted to send the motion to the full-Party plenary, where they'll debate and vote on it.

Speakers in the workshop were careful to define polygamy as a marriage between multiple spouses. They made a clear distinction between polygamy between consenting adults and a polygamist sect in Bountiful, B.C., where domestic abuse has been alleged, though charges were thrown out in 2009.

“It's a human rights issue,” said Trey Capnerhurst, a Green Party candidate in Edmonton East, noting that she is a poly-advocate.

Polyamory is the process of having more than one intimate relationship at the same time, according to the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.

Capnerhurst says in cases where police suspect domestic abuse against multiple wives and children, that should be the subject of criminal charges.

“We should be not be charging people with polygamy,” she said.

Several Green members in the workshop argued the policy is impossible to sell to voters and could mean losing support at a time when they hit record numbers in the last election.

Those who spoke in favour said the party should treat it as a human rights issue, just as they did with same-sex marriage rights.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May says the party is open and democratic, allowing any motion with enough support to be discussed.

“It certainly isn't a motion I voted for,” she said. “It's something I continue to oppose.”

A spokeswoman for May says she doesn't expect the motion to pass the full party plenary on Sunday.

Capnerhurst says there's a bias against those in polyamorous relationships, of which she estimates number in the tens of thousands in Canada.

She compared it to the status of same-sex marriage rights a decade ago, and says being in a polyamorous relationship is sometimes used as a reason to deny child custody to parents in divorce cases.

She also pointed to hospital rules that don't allow more than one spouse to visit patients.

A group of 20 families in B.C. are challenging the law at the province's supreme court. The maximum penalty for polygamy is five years in jail, but it hasn't been prosecuted in 60 years, according to media reports.

laura.payton@sunmedia.ca


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