Polygamous Marriage Prompts Outrage In Brazil

on August 29 2012 11:12 AM
Polygamy is illegal across the western world..
Polygamy is illegal across the western world.. Flickr/Creative Common

A civil union between a man and two women has sparked outrage in Brazil.

BBC reported that a public notary named Claudia do Nascimento Domingues in the city of Tupa, near Sao Paulo, who conducted the ceremony, insisted that the law does not prohibit such a three-way arrangement and that such couples should enjoy the same rights as traditional pairs.

“What we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today,” Domingues said.

"We are only recognizing what has always existed. We are not inventing anything. For better or worse, it doesn't matter."

The two women and their ‘husband’ live in Rio de Janeiro and have been dividing their financial responsibilities equitably – including a three-way joint bank account.

Globo TV station reported that the couple were married three months ago. They have not been identified and have not spoken to the media.

Regina Beatriz Tavares da Silva, an attorney who is the leader of Commission for the Rights of the Family within the Institute of Lawyers in Brazil, condemned the triple union as “absurd and totally illegal” and "something completely unacceptable which goes against Brazilian values and morals."

Da Silva added that the marriage will be dissolved, citing that bigamy and polygamy are illegal. it remains unclear how such institutions as courts and health insurance companies will treat the three-way union prior to its annulment.

Polygamy is lawful across much of the Muslim world, in much of Africa and other parts of Asia.

The Roman Catholic Church, which dominates Brazil and Latin America, explicitly condemns the practice, stating that “is not in accord with the moral law."

Although polygamy is largely banned across the western world, there are some unusual exceptions. For example, in the United Kingdom, a polygamous marriage that has been conducted in foreign nation where such unions are legal, will be recognized for the purpose welfare benefits. This means that if, say, a Pakistani man has two wives in Pakistan (where it is legal), and he migrates to the UK, his wives would be eligible to receive certain welfare benefits (although they would not receive pensions or citizenship rights). A somewhat similar scenario also exists in Australia (where polygamy is otherwise outlawed).

In the United States, polygamy has been associated with the Mormons --- but the mainstream Latter Day Saints church outlawed the practice in the late 18th century due to overwhelming opposition from the government, courts and other Christian churches.

However, thousands of ‘splinter’ Mormons continues to practice polygamy even today, particularly in the southwest U.S.