B.C. rights group sides with Bountiful in landmark polygamy court case

Vancouver, Canada - A B.C. civil rights group is siding with a controversial religious sect in a landmark court case examining Canada's ban on polygamy.

In final arguments filed with the court, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says the law against multiple marriage is outdated and should be relegated to the scrap heap of history because barring polygamous relationships violates fundamental freedoms protected in the Canadian charter.

Spokeswoman Monique Pongracic-Speier says the law invites the state into the bedrooms of consenting adults who choose plural relationships.

Final arguments will begin later this month in B.C. Supreme Court, which has heard allegations that B.C. girls as young as 12 have been married off to jailed American polygamist Warren Jeffs, along with conflicting expert testimony on whether the practice is inherently harmful to women and children.

The case was prompted by the failed polygamy prosecution of two religious leaders from Bountiful, in southeastern B.C.

The association says it, too, is concerned about allegations of child abuse and sexual interference within polygamous communities, but it argues that criminal activity should be investigated and prosecuted whether it occurs in polygamous or monogamous relationships.