The highest Court of British Columbia has ruled that anti-polygamy law already in existence in Canada should stand. Chief Justice Robert Bauman has held that the ban on multiple marriages is actually consistent as even the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibits polygamy. Justice Bauman also stated that the law only minimally impairs freedom. As he wrote in his decision, I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm, the salutary effects of the prohibition far outweigh the deleterious. However, as per to him, the law should concentrate more on as to avoid criminalizing the actions of minors in polygamous marriages. He also said the limitation imposed by the law has limited the harms expected to rise from polygamy which includes spousal abuse, child neglect, and higher infant mortality.
When a judge threw out polygamy charges against two bishops of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), then this case was brought forward in the court.
Winston Blackmore and James Oler, these two rival bishops are being charged in polygamy charges who have stated that the law denied them their constitutional right to religious freedom.
Anne Wilde, a Mormon fundamentalist from Utah, served as a testimony at the hearing and openly supported striking down the law.
Now, as per the Supreme Court’s decision, there will be prosecution of members of the FLDS practicing polygamy in a settlement named Bountiful situated in the south-east of the province. The FLDS split from the mainstream Mormon Church over the issue of polygamy, and has an estimated 10,000 followers in parts of the US and Canada. The leader of this group named Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting two child brides.
Report by Indrani Chowdury