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Clarification to be sought on polygamy laws

B.C.’s attorney general yesterday said he won’t be appealing a recentcourt ruling quashing polygamy charges against two men from Bountifulbecause Canadian laws surrounding polygamy need clarification.

B.C.’s attorney general yesterday said he won’t be appealing a recent court ruling quashing polygamy charges against two men from Bountiful because Canadian laws surrounding polygamy need clarification.

Instead, Michael de Jong said he’ll be asking the B.C. Supreme Court to decide whether Section 293 of the Criminal Code, which outlaws polygamy, is constitutional.

“To appeal the court’s ruling … would be inadvisable while questions persist concerning the constitutionality of Section 293 of the Criminal Code,” de Jong said.

In September, the Supreme Court quashed charges against Winston Blackmore and James Oler, who were charged with having more than one wife.

The men argued the charges violated their rights to religious freedom.

De Jong said he’ll ask the court to determine if Section 293 is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and whether polygamy laws should address relationships between consenting adults or just minors.

Kasari Govender, legal director of West Coast LEAF — a women’s rights organization — said this is a step in the right direction.

“(This) will allow the court to focus on the equality and human rights of women and children in Bountiful,” said Govender.

 
 
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