Thursday, October 02, 2008
POLYGAMY IS CATCHING ON
SYDNEY, Australia, September 4, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Australian Federal Parliament today introduced a bill that, if passed, would grant legal benefits to homosexual couples; but critics say it would also essentially legalize polygamy, since the bill would grant benefits to homosexual relationships regardless of whether either partner is currently legally married to someone else.
The Same-Sex Entitlements Bill follows upon a similar bill passed in May granting retirement benefits to same-sex couples, and would extend benefits to homosexuals in matters of immigration, taxation, employment entitlements, and worker's compensation, among other issues. But because the bill stipulates that these benefits must be given to homosexuals regardless of whether they are already legally married to a third party, the Federal Opposition attacked the bill for opening the doors to polygamy.
Polygamy is a hotly-debated issue in Australia due to the rapid rise of Islam, which considers polygamy a cultural option worthy of sanctioning by the federal government. Newsblaze.com reported only two days ago that senior Islamic leaders petitioned for legal recognition of polygamous marriage, but the government has so far remained steadfastly against amending its laws to allow polygamy. Some Australian Muslim women have also made the news in their protest against legalizing polygamy.
News Blaze goes into more depth regarding this debate in Australia.
Those seeking legalisation of polygamy cite that in traditional indigenous Aboriginal communities in Australia's Northern Territory, unofficially, such marriages exist and that these relationships are even recognised when the government grants welfare benefits.
In fact, in February this year, the United Kingdom ruled that it would grant welfare benefits to all spouses in a polygamous marriage, if the marriages had taken place in countries where polygamy is legal. Nearly 1,000 men are said to be living legally with multiple wives in Britain.
Polygamy is also common in Indonesia, but remains a controversial lifestyle choice. In the United States, polygamous sects such as the Mormons and practicing polygamists have conflicts with the law constantly.
"For religious men, polygamy essentially protects them from committing adultery. Adultery in Islam is strictly prohibited. If a man decides to have a sexual relationship with another woman, he has to marry her. In countries like Saudi Arabia, where polygamy is legalised, adultery or extra marital affair is rare," says Faten Dana, 45, President, Muslim Welfare Association of Australia.
"In Australia, one of the benefits of legalising polygamous marriages would be that men would openly talk about their relationships rather than under the garb of secrecy. Making these relationships formal will also grant the women and children in such relationships certain rights as men would have obligations and responsibilities towards them," says Dana, who migrated to Australia from Lebanon 19 years ago.
In 2006, there were 114,222 registered marriages, but there is no figure for polygamous marriages. The author of 'Islam: Its Law and Society', Jamila Hussain says, "The origin of polygamy dates back to the early days of Islam, to the battle of Uhud, when many men were killed. Men marrying more than one woman was a social welfare measure, ensuring that widows and fatherless children were looked after, as during those days there was no government social support system."
Australian legislation attempting to guarantee gay rights is spilling over into the heterosexual community as well. Heterosexual live-in relationships, called "de facto relationships" under the law, qualify for property rights that protect homosexual live-in relationships as reported at FindLaw
Imagine the live-in girlfriend qualifying for a portion of a man's inheritance from his parent who dies during the live-in arrangement of the son. Imagine the woman in an adulterous relationship qualifying for part of the man's estate when he dies, taking financial benefits away from his legal wife and children.
Homosexual rights have the potential to change our entire social system.