Scots atheist calls for polygamous marriage

People in polygamous relationships should be free to marry more than one partner “without interference”, a representative from Atheist Scotland has said.

Writing to The Scotsman newspaper, Ian Stewart said the right to have more than one spouse is a “matter of equality”.

He said: “Polyandrous and polygamous marriage will not devalue or undermine the validity of homosexual or heterosexual marriage in any way whatsoever.”


Mr Stewart, who has described himself as convenor of Atheist Scotland, was writing in response to a letter from Robert Canning of the Scottish Secular Society which said legalising gay marriage would not lead to polygamy.

Mr Canning had said: “When homosexual couples marry, they do not do so on the mere grounds that they claim to love each other.”

He pointed out that their marriage is on condition of neither partner having existing spouses.


He said, “any good reasons to prohibit polygamy and incestuous marriage will still be good reasons when same-sex marriage is allowed”.

But Mr Stewart said Mr Canning sounded “as conservative as the religious conservatives he claims to oppose”.

He questioned why Mr Canning is “opposed to women and men who love more than one partner being able to marry those whom they love and cherish”.


Mr Canning had written after Elaine Smith MSP raised concerns that redefining marriage in Scotland could lead to polygamy.

She said in written evidence to the Equal Opportunities Committee 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 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.”

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