Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Polys in Court - first hand report - day 2

I was interviewed Monday afternoon by CBC and a few of my comments, none of which were what I'd hoped would have been used, appeared in their article found here
I was interviewed Tuesday afternoon by CTV and one of my comments from the 10 minutes of chatting (and several takes of re-entering the building I did so they could have film) got into the accompanying video clip seen here
 It's a bit frustrating that nothing I say of key importance gets picked up.  Having sat and read all the comments on the CBC article and seen clearly that the general public doesn't realize the far reaching impact of leaving a law this vague on the books.  I apologize for the delay in posting this summary as I just didn't have the bandwidth last night.

Day 2 began with the BC Attorney completing his opening statement to the court.  He had given a really in-depth discussion of the history of polygamy as practiced within the context of Mormonism, First Nations and Muslims and the early history of the development of section 293.  He began by discussing the legal significance of a religious context to a law.  He compared the development of the incest laws in Canada to the polygamy law development and that religious freedom is not enough of a context to void a law rooted in moral principle.  He disagreed with a shifting purpose of this law and said that the harms to society outweigh the individuals right to religious belief.    The BC AG then moved to defining criminal polygamy.  He cited his experts and the conclusion that  criminal polygamy means polygyny (MFF) and that the difference between polygamy and polyamory would be too difficult to determine thus the same gender configuration of polyamory would be considered criminal polygamy under this law as well.  The BC AG's presentation is lengthy and high lights quotes from experts and witnesses that he intends to call.  I will leave that for future notes. 

The lawyer for the AG of Canada presented her opening statement by adding to what the BC AG had already said on many points and adding that she disagreed that criminal polygamy was limited to MFF relationships but would include all forms of multiple partnered relationships.  Prosecution would be dependent on a ceremony, rite or contract having been  performed.  Interestingly enough Justice Bauman asked the lawyer for the AG of Canada how this impacted polygynous polyamory and other configurations of polyamory and the people who had provided affidavits for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.  She said that would depend on the definition and form of polyamory but all forms could be prosecuted under this law if the participants have entered into a ceremony, rite or contract or otherwise formalized their union.

Next up was the lawyer representing REAL Women of Canada.  He indicated that their position is that the law is constitutional in that if freedom of religion is infringed on it is justified.  He cited harms to functioning society and women & children in polygamous homes.  The exploitation of children and coersion of child brides was raised as substantive harms worthy of justifying the infringement of the charter in several sections.

West Coast LEAF's lawyer presented their position last of the day.  LEAF's position is that the law should be read down to apply where there is exploitation and further that the court should use section 153 which defines exploitation.

The day's presentations made it clear that polygamy is seen as responsible for a wealth of abusive situations and that polyamory and any multiple relationship structure cannot be separated from this evils in the breadths of this law.

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