Polygamy in Australia
|Legal status of polygamy|
|Recognized under civil law|
|Recognized in some regions|
|Foreign marriages recognized|
|Recognized under customary law|
|Status in other jurisdictions|
Polygamous marriages may not be performed in Australia, and the practice of polygamy is prohibited in the country. A person who marries another person, knowing that the previous marriage is still subsisting, commits an offence of bigamy under section 94 of the Marriage Act 1961, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment, and the second marriage is void.
However, much like the situation in the United Kingdom, polygamous marriages conducted in jurisdictions that legally recognize and perform such unions may be legally valid in Australia for some purposes. While the extent of benefits granted to a foreign polygamous marriage are unclear, benefits such as welfare are legally granted to each spouse and their children. In addition, the polygamous marriage is recognized for the purpose of a spouse having access to the Family Court for divorce, property settlement and children issues.
In the lead-up to the 2012 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras polygamists were offended when their application to enter a float was questioned. A concern for Mardi Gras organisers was reconciling any endorsement of polyamorous relationships, while at the same time promoting marriage equality for couples. Polygamists felt excluded particularly as the Mardi Gras theme was "universal and infinite love". The issue was resolved by having restrictions placed on the polygamy group's signage within the parade. A polygamy float was entered the 2012 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras based on the theme "Queer Polyamory". There was polygamy float in the 2014 Mardi Gras, themed, "Polyamory Sydney ‘Birds of a Feather, love together’ – the infinite love Nest".
There is a small community of polygamists in Australia who are working towards the removal of prejudice against multiple-partner relationships and ultimately to the legalisation of polyamorous marriage. There have been a handful of Islamic leaders, particularly Imams, who have pushed for the legislation of polygamous marriages in Australia, which has stirred a controversial and emotional debate throughout the nation. Proponents of polygamy have claimed that such legislation would "protect the rights of women," while opponents have claimed that it would "endanger the Australian way of life."
In response to the intensifying debate, Australia's former Attorney General Robert McClelland remarked that "There is absolutely no way that the government will be recognising polygamist relationships. They are unlawful and they will remain as such. Under Australian law, marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. Polygamous marriage necessarily offends this definition."
- Rights charter is from 2009[dead link]
- Sect 23(1)(a) of the Marriage Act 1961
- Probing polygamy[dead link]
- Islamic Polygamy, Western Monogamy
- Probing polygamy[dead link]
- Sect 6 of the Family Law Act 1975
- Akersten, Matt (4 February 2012). "Polyamorists defend parade spot". Same Same. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Noonan, Andie (12 February 2012). "Poly conflict resolved". Star Observer. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Every float, every group– Mardi Gras Parade2012 revealed". Same Same. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Mardi Gras Parade 2014 – All the floats you'll see". Same Same. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Higgins, Ean (10 December 2011). "Three in marriage bed more of a good thing". The Australian. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Muslim Leaders Call for Australia to Recognize Polygamy[dead link]
- Australia: Polygamy should be legal, says sheikh
- Legalise polygamous unions: Muslim leaders
- Australia in Muslim Polygamy Debate[dead link]
- Polygamous marriages, in Australia?
- Australia: Polygamous Marriages, Multiple Reactions
- Polygamy - the right to put down women[dead link]
- No recognition for polygamous marriage