By Kathleen Gilbert

SYDNEY, Australia, September 4, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Australian Federal Parliament today introduced a bill that, if passed, would grant legal benefits to homosexual couples; but critics say it would also essentially legalize polygamy, since the bill would grant benefits to homosexual relationships regardless of whether either partner is currently legally married to someone else.

The Same-Sex Entitlements Bill follows upon a similar bill passed in May granting retirement benefits to same-sex couples, and would extend benefits to homosexuals in matters of immigration, taxation, employment entitlements, and worker’s compensation, among other issues.  But because the bill stipulates that these benefits must be given to homosexuals regardless of whether they are already legally married to a third party, the Federal Opposition attacked the bill for opening the doors to polygamy. 

Polygamy is a hotly-debated issue in Australia due to the rapid rise of Islam, which considers polygamy a cultural option worthy of sanctioning by the federal government.  Newsblaze.com reported only two days ago that senior Islamic leaders petitioned for legal recognition of polygamous marriage, but the government has so far remained steadfastly against amending its laws to allow polygamy.  Some Australian Muslim women have also made the news in their protest against legalizing polygamy.

Sophie Mirabella, the Victorian Liberal MP, told the Herald Sun that by introducing the homosexual bill "not only is the Labor Party legalising polygamy, but it’s changing the law so that the third person in an extramarital relationship can effectively claim the assets of a marriage or of the long-term de facto relationship."

Homosexual activist Rodney Croome criticized the Opposition for considering "a marriage without love" to be "more important than a de facto relationship with it," with "de facto relationship" understood as adultery or fornication.  He continues that it’s simply "a fact of life" that some homosexual relationships are adulterous, and expressed concern that the extra-marital party would not have legislative protection as Australian law stands, according to pinknews.com.

But critics of the bill emphasize that this would lead to the ruin of the innocent spouse that is uninvolved in the adultery, since it allows the extra-marital lover to make a legitimate property claim.  Such a state of affairs, the opposition claims, is materially the same as legalizing polygamy, only under the guise of homosexual tolerance.

Rather than striking down the bill, the opposition hopes to remove the portions that recognize adulterous homosexual relationships.  Both political parties in the Australian government, despite the recent legislation favoring homosexual couples, still maintain that actual marriage pertains only to one man and one woman.