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Bigamy

In cultures where monogamy is mandated, bigamy is the act of entering into a marriage with one person while still married to another. A legal or de facto separation of the couple does not alter their marital status as married persons. In the case of a person in the process of divorcing his or her spouse, that person is taken to be married until such time as the divorce becomes final or absolute under the law of the relevant jurisdiction. Bigamy laws do not apply to couples in a de facto or cohabitation relationship, or that enter such relationships when one is married. If the prior marriage is for any reason void, the couple is not married, hence each party is free to marry another without falling foul of the bigamy laws. Bigamy is a crime in most countries; when it occurs in this context neither the first nor second spouse is aware of the other, although the majority are involved in plural marriages. In countries that have bigamy laws, with a few exceptions, consent from a prior spouse makes no difference to the legality of the second marriage, considered void.

Before Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and Maximian passed strict anti-polygamy laws in 285 AD that mandated monogamy as the only form of legal marital relationship, as had traditionally been the case in classical Greece and Rome. In 393, the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I issued an imperial edict to extend the ban on polygamy to Jewish communities. In 1000, Rabbi Gershom ben Judah ruled polygamy inadmissible within Ashkenazi Jewish communities living in a Christian environment. In ancient China, bigamy was a punishable offence. A man, at any given time, could only be married to one woman, vice versa. Issue with the wife enjoyed preference in social status. Most western countries do not recognize polygamous marriages, consider bigamy a crime. Several countries prohibit people from living a polygamous lifestyle; this is the case in some states of the United States where the criminalization of a polygamous lifestyle originated as anti-Mormon laws, although they are enforced.

In diplomatic law, consular spouses from polygamous countries are sometimes exempt from a general prohibition on polygamy in host countries. In some such countries, only one spouse of a polygamous diplomat may be accredited, however. Australia: Illegal. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. Belgium: Illegal. 5–10 years' imprisonment. Brazil: Illegal. 2–6 years' imprisonment. Canada: Illegal. China: Illegal. Up to 2 years' imprisonment, up to 3 years for bigamy with soldiers. Colombia Illegal with exceptions. Although bigamy no longer exists as a lone figure in the Colombian judicial code marrying someone new without dissolving an earlier marriage may yield to other felonies such as civil status forgery or suppression of information. Egypt: Legal if first wife consents. Eritrea: Illegal. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. All the 27 countries of the European Union: Illegal. Germany: Illegal. Punishable. Ghana: Illegal. Up to 6 months' imprisonment. Hong Kong: Illegal. Up to 7 years' imprisonment. Iceland: Illegal. India: Legal only for Muslims but rarely practiced.

Up to 10 years' imprisonment for others except in the state of Goa for Hindus due to its own civil code. Indonesia: Depending on the specific tribe in question, bigamy can be legal or illegal. Republic of Ireland: Illegal; the offence was created by section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This section replaces section 26 of the Act 10 Geo. 4 c. 34 for the Republic of Ireland. Iran: Legal with consent of first wife. Practiced. Israel: Illegal for members of each confessional community. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. Italy: Illegal. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. Libya: Legal with conditions. Malaysia: Illegal for non-Muslims under federal jurisdiction. Under section 494 of Chapter XX of the Penal Code, non-Muslim offenders found guilty of bigamy or polygamy can be punished up to 7 years' imprisonment. Bigamy or polygamy is legal only for Muslims with restrictions under state jurisdiction practiced. Maldives: Permitted for anyone. Malta: Illegal. Netherlands: Illegal. Up to 6 years' imprisonment.

If the new partner is aware of the bigamy they can be imprisoned for a maximum of 4 years. New Zealand: Illegal. Up to 7 years' imprisonment, or up to 2 years' imprisonment if the judge is satisfied the second spouse was aware their marriage would be void. Morocco: Permitted for Muslims, restrictions apply. Pakistan: Polygamy in Pakistan is permitted with some restrictions. Philippines: Legal for Muslims. Others face 6–12 years' imprisonment and legal dissolution of marriage. Romania: Illegal. Saudi Arabia: Bigamy or polygamy is legal. South Africa: Legal under the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998 for customary marriages. Under civil law marriages, any marriage in addition to an existing one is invalid. Somalia: Polygamy is legal at marriage courts. Taiwan: Illegal. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. Thailand: Prior to October 1, 1935, polygamy in Thailand could be practiced and recognised under civil law. Since its abolition, it is still practiced and accepted in Thailand, though no longer recognised, as the law states "A man or a woman cannot marry each other while one of them has a spouse."

Tunisia: Illegal. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. Turkey: Illegal. Up to 5 years' imprisonment. United Kingdom: Illegal, although m

Jon Hall (basketball)

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