Thursday, 28 January 2010

Does the UK recognize polygamy? YES, now it does!!!

"When I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven cats,
And every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, man, and wives;
How many were going to St. Ives?"

Polygamy has always been against the law in the UK and punishable by a jail sentence of up to seven years. In the past it’s never been a big issue because, let’s face it, who’d want to have more than one wife? Divorce is (relatively) easy to get, so you can marry again if you want. And also, more and more couples are deciding not to have their partnerships formally recognized by the state anyway.

But now, unbelievably, the British government has recognized polygamy by agreeing to pay husbands with multiple wives state benefits for all their married partners.

Ministers have decided that, even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, polygamous marriages can be recognized formally by the state - provided they took place overseas, in countries where they are legal.

The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife.

Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain, although they admit there is no exact record.

Potentially, the benefits bill for income support could reach £10m.

New guidelines on income support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) state: "Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate (£92.80).

"The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65."

Source: This is London

This doesn’t mean that a man can get married in the UK whilst still being married. He can’t. At least not yet. But what it does mean is that he can get married to multiple partners overseas, and if these wives then come to Britain, they will be recognized by the British state as being the man’s wives and possibly eligible to state benefits.

So how long before bigamous marriages can take place in the UK?

Well, the way things are going, I’d give it just a few years…