By Hilary White
LONDON/TORONTO, Ont., February 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Conservative analysts have long argued that the primacy of natural, monogamous marriage in the laws of western countries, such as Britain and Canada, is being eroded by mass immigration from Islamic states and the success of the homosexual lobby in re-writing the legal definition of marriage. And indeed, it has recently been revealed that in Britain and Canada, immigration and welfare rules tacitly admit that polygamy, which remains illegal in both countries, is one of the new facts of life.
It was revealed in early February that new rules drawn up by the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) allow Muslim men – who under Sharia law are permitted up to four wives – to claim welfare benefits for more than one wife. In addition, while bigamy remains a crime under British law, immigration rules contain a loophole that allow a man to obtain a civil divorce from a current wife, while continuing to live with her in the UK as her spouse under Sharia law, and at the same time marry and obtain a spouse visa for another foreign woman whom he can then legally marry in Britain.
At the same time, Canadian lawmakers are “perturbed” to find out that husbands can claim welfare benefits for multiple wives in Ontario. Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, responded to a report from the Canadian Society of Muslims that estimated that “several hundred” men in the Greater Toronto Area are in polygamous marriages and are receiving welfare payments for their multiple wives. Bigamy remains illegal in Canada and the rules officially bar applicants for welfare from claiming for more than one spouse.
Meilleur is quoted by the Ottawa Citizen February 9, saying, “Not knowing the law is not an excuse. They should know that in Canada there is no polygamy and that only one wife is covered.”
In Britain, however, the rules directly allow claims for multiple wives, after a year long government review of the system. Ministers admit that they have no “exact record” of how many such arrangements are active in Britain or how much money the payouts will ultimately cost the government. A Muslim man with the maximum of four spouses permitted under Islamic law could receive £10,000 a year in income support alone.
The new rules 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.” The decision comes after a year of review and applies if the multiple marriages occurred out of the country in jurisdictions where such arrangements are legal.
A passage of the immigration rule book says, “Entry clearance may not be withheld from a second wife where the husband has divorced his previous wife and the divorce is thought to be one of convenience. This is so, even if the husband is still living with the previous wife and to issue the entry clearance would lead to the formation of a polygamous household.”
The Daily Telegraph quoted the opposition shadow secretary for work and pensions, Chris Grayling, saying the rules are “completely unjustifiable.”
“You are not allowed to have multiple marriages in the UK, so to have a situation where the benefits system is treating people in different ways is totally unacceptable and will serve to undermine confidence in the system,” Grayling said.
“This sets a precedent that will lead to more demands for the culture of other countries to be reflected in UK law and the benefits system.”