June 25, 2008
MUSLIMS living in polygamous marriages have been put on notice by federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland.
Polygamous marriages do exist among Australian Muslims, a sheikh with the Islamic Welfare Centre in Sydney has said.
But such relationships are illegal under the federal Marriage Act which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
"Everyone should be on notice that the law in Australia is that marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others,'' Mr McClelland told reporters today.
"That's based on a long tradition.
"It's based on the culture of our community and polygamous relationships are entirely inconsistent with that culture and indeed with the law.
"Polygamous relationships are and will remain unlawful.''
Sheik Khalil Chami yesterday said polygamous marriages should be recognised under law.
"Why not change the law?'' he asked.
Well-known Islamic spokesman Keysar Trad admitted he had once pursued the possibility of marrying a second woman.
"I certainly would not have entertained the thought of having a relationship without a religious marriage and I thought the relationship with that person was developing to the stage where we had become too friendly with each other,'' Mr Trad told ABC Radio.
"Rather than entertain any thoughts of an affair I thought the only decent thing to do was to consider a proper commitment to that person.''
Mr McClelland said the debate on polygamous marriages was entirely different to issues surrounding same-sex marriage and discrimination of homosexual couples.
"The same-sex law reforms that we've introduced remove discrimination.
"But we've confirmed and reiterated a number of times that the Marriage Act defines marriage as being between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others so a polygamous marriage necessarily offends that definition and we won't be changing it.''
Source: The Daily Telegraph