“This has been a very complex issue. It’s been with us for well over 20 years. The problem has always been the defense of religion has always been raised.”
Oppal said some legal experts have believed that a charge for practising polygamy wouldn’t withstand a Charter of Rights challenge over the issue of freedom of religion.
“I’ve always disagreed with that,” he said.
“I’ve always taken the position that’s a valid offence in law. And if someone says that it’s contrary to their religion let a judge make that decision.”
He said he’s pleased a prosecution will proceed, providing some clarity to whether the law will be upheld by the courts.
It seems there is a question here as to the possible positive outcomes of prosecution. I understand the fear that if state loses it could open the door to other, even more odious religious practices-such as female circumcision, and that these practices could conceivably then be protected by law. It would be a stronger case perhaps if there were actual allegations of underage marriage and child abuse (which have been attributed to the FLDS in America), instead of indicting solely on the practice of polygamy. It will be interesting to see where this leads. If the state wins it could bode well for such actions in the US. On the other hand if the state loses it could be a bad thing for negative religious practices in general.