MSP: Polygamy could be next if marriage is redefined

If marriage is redefined in Scotland, legalising polygamy could be next, a senior MSP has said.

Labour’s Elaine Smith raised concerns about the proposals, saying there is “no logical reason” to discriminate against a relationship of three or more people if “love” is the driving force behind the legislation.

She made the comments in written evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee, which is looking into the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill.


Elaine Smith pointed to the Netherlands, where there are now arrangements for three or more people to be in a civil union since the country introduced gay marriage in 2001.

She said: “Whilst the Government has said that it has no intention of allowing polygamous marriages as part of this legislation which changes the essential nature of marriage, it has not explained in any detail and with research analysis its reasons for taking that position.”

She added: “Further, if the Government is sincere about it support for ‘equal love’ then it appears to have a contradiction on its hands.”


The MSP also warned about “unintended consequences” of legalising same-sex marriage.

She said: “The Committee may also wish to consider whether a redefinition of marriage will inevitably lead to further changes, not only for society but also for marriage itself.”

Tim Hopkins from pro-gay marriage group the Equality Network said it is “quite wrong” to suggest their campaign has anything to do with polygamy.


He said: “By all means, let’s debate this bill, but let’s have a respectful debate on what the bill actually does, not one about something completely different that no-one is proposing.”

Elaine Smith has previously spoken out against abuse she has suffered online as a result of her stance in support of traditional marriage.

She had predicted she would be verbally attacked, and since then became a target on the social networking site Twitter.

She said: “It is astonishing that a politician cannot represent the views of their constituents without being vilified and subjected to personal attacks.”

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