Friday, October 22, 2010

The Heart of the Argument: Canada's Criminal Code - Section 293

Section 293 of Canada's Criminal Code covers polygamy. It states:
  1. Every one who:
    (a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into
    (i) any form of polygamy, or
    (ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or

    (b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (i) or (ii), is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

  2. Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse. 1
Section 293 was added to the Criminal Code in the late 19th century, allegedly to prevent Mormons from settling in Canada. 

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