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Polygamy in Australia


Polygamy in Australia

Polygamy is not permitted in Australia. Polygamous marriages may not be performed in Australia,[1] [2] and 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.[3] Whether or not either or both partners were aware of the previous subsisting marriage, the second marriage is void.[4]

Polygamous marriages entered into in jurisdictions that legally recognize and perform such unions may be legally valid in Australia for some purposes.[5][6] 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.[7] In addition, the polygamous marriage is recognized for the purpose of a spouse having access to the Family Court for divorce, and involving property settlement and children issues.[8]


  • Legalisation proposal 1
  • Polyamory 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Legalisation proposal

A number of Islamic leaders, particularly Imams have advocated the legalisation of polygamous marriages in Australia,[9][10][11] which has stirred a controversial and emotional debate.[12][13] Proponents of polygamy have claimed that legalisation would "protect the rights of women,"[14] while opponents have claimed that it would "endanger the Australian way of life."[15]

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."[16]


There is a small community of polyamorists in Australia who are working towards the removal of prejudice against multiple-partner relationships and ultimately to the legalisation of polyamorous marriage.[17][18][19]

In the lead-up to the 2012 [20] The issue was resolved by having restrictions placed on the polyamory group's signage within the parade.[21] A polyamory float was entered in the 2012 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras based on the theme "Queer Polyamory".[22] There was a polyamory float in the 2014 Mardi Gras, themed, "Polyamory Sydney ‘Birds of a Feather, love together’ – the infinite love Nest".[23]

See also


  1. ^ Rights charter is from 2009
  2. ^ MARRIAGE ACT 1961 (Australia) s94(1).
  3. ^ Sect 23(1)(a) of the Marriage Act 1961
  4. ^ MARRIAGE ACT 1961(Australia) s23B(1)a.
  5. ^ Probing polygamy
  6. ^ Islamic Polygamy, Western Monogamy
  7. ^ Probing polygamy
  8. ^ Sect 6 of the Family Law Act 1975
  9. ^ Muslim Leaders Call for Australia to Recognize Polygamy
  10. ^ Australia: Polygamy should be legal, says sheikh
  11. ^ Legalise polygamous unions: Muslim leaders
  12. ^ Australia in Muslim Polygamy Debate
  13. ^ Polygamous marriages, in Australia?
  14. ^ Australia: Polygamous Marriages, Multiple Reactions
  15. ^ Polygamy - the right to put down women
  16. ^ No recognition for polygamous marriage
  17. ^ Higgins, Ean (10 December 2011). "Three in marriage bed more of a good thing".  
  18. ^ Patricia Karvelas (11 May 2014). "Same-sex first, then polygamy". The Australian. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  19. ^ Tory Shepherd (29 May 2012). "Confessions of a polygamist: A man's love for two sistersl". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  20. ^ Akersten, Matt (4 February 2012). "Polyamorists defend parade spot".  
  21. ^ Noonan, Andie (12 February 2012). "Poly conflict resolved".  
  22. ^ "Every float, every group– Mardi Gras Parade2012 revealed".  
  23. ^ "Mardi Gras Parade 2014 – All the floats you'll see".  
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