Polygamy in Denmark, when Everything Old is New Again….Leave a comment
February 24, 2015 by kittynh
My friend Nelson Dafe again has kindly agreed to share with the blog an interview he contucted with a Danish politician that wishes to introduce legal polygamy in Denmark. The interesting point of view for me is that in much of the world polygamy is legal. Throughout history, polygamy was more than likely the norm rather than an oddity. Even today, outside of Western society, polygamy is the historic and cultural way people form families. It is interesting to read this interview , an African reporter interviewing a Danish politician, about how family is defined by the government and culture. Thank you Nelson once again for your generosity. -Kitty
In Africa polygamy is a common feature of family life. However, it is illegal in western countries where the norm is a two-person marital relationship.
But there’s a minority of European voices who hold different opinions about polygamy. Among them is Danish politician Keld Christensen of the Liberal Alliance Party, who has called for the legalisation of polygamy in Denmark.
In a piece he recently wrote, titled ‘Cause The Greatest Of All Is Love’, Christensen called the refusal to legalise polygamy in Denmark a “serious restriction of the citizens’ free choice.”
Mr. Christensen is also advocating for the legalisation of polyandry (which is a form of polygamy in which a woman marries more than one man.)
He added that it shouldn’t be the state’s business to decide who should be in a marital relationship or not.
Mr. Christensen argues that the benefits of polygamy and polyandry are multiple. He cites, as example, economic advantage and says that a polygamous marriage would mean that there would be more resources for families to budget within their everyday lives, because more people in the household can work and take care of the house and, if possible, the children.
Christensen (who is a member of the Regional Council of Central Denmark) stresses that he sees no unique problem in a polygamous marriage, while arguing that just like in a two-person marriage, it is the consenting partners that sign the marriage contract, “the only difference being that now (in a polygamy) there might be several to sign (the marriage) contract instead of a few.”
He emphasises that the stumbling block to polygamy and polyandry in Denmark is “obsolete, antiquated traditions of primarily religious origin.”
News Express spoke with Mr. Christensen about his article. Below is an excerpt of the interview.
News Express: What do you think of polygamy as practised in Africa and how do you think Denmark and the rest of the western world can learn from the African experience?
CHRISTENSEN: To me it very important to lean from others’ culture, but my knowledge about polygamous relationships in Africa is very limited. To me it is important that both, or all partners, marry of their own free will.
How popular is the call for polygamy and polyandry to be practised in Denmark?
To me it is not about how many that live in a polygamist relationship, but the liberty to choose
freely. Not all people are the same here in this world, and thank heavens for that. Some people feel good about living alone their whole life, others find their partner and stay with him or her the rest of their life, but some people don’t feel completely complete unless they are in a relationship with more than one person. And we should respect this as a society.
You write about religion being the main instrument used in the opposition to polygamy and polyandry. But given that Denmark is relatively much more atheistic than many other countries in mainland Europe and the rest of the world, do you think religious people are the strongest opposition to your call for the legalisation of polygamy and polyandry?
It is correct, viewed with other, more religious countries’ eyes, Denmark is a very atheistic country, but our constitution is built on Christian values, and around 80% of the Danes arereligious of some sort, and beside that as a standard our children are born into Christianity, unless the parents decide not to, or that the child after the age of 18 decides to resign from the Christian beliefs. That is also the reason I ask if the religious people of Denmark or the government should decide this.
You write that there is no problem about polygamy, but don’t you think a polygamous marriage can lead to all sorts of problems, like a partner being left out in the love triangle eventually?
No, I don’t think this will cause any problems, on the background that all partners are open to the thought of living in a relationship like this. Of course, someone can get jealous in a relationship like this, but that also happens in “normal” relationships.
When you look at your crystal ball, do you think the call for the legalisation of polygamy and polyandry could soon reach a critical mass and that a law could be passed any time soon to make a multi-person marriage legal?
No, sadly, no. I think it will be very hard to get the law to accept this kind of lifestyle because there are a lot of political parties that would have a lot against this. But I hope that we, within my lifetime, would be more open-minded.
Polygamy as practised in Nigeria’s and (Africa’s) local traditions involves a man marrying more than one wife. He basically ‘owns’ the women, and the women are not permitted to have any sexual relationship with each other. My guess is that the polygamy you are pushing for is not as restrictive as this.
Yes, there are two important differences between my kind of polygamy and what you mention. irst of all, all partners should freely go in to this marriage equally, and no one should be able to “own” another person. There should be a big focus on freedom, in my view on polygamy. Beside this, it shouldn’t only be a marriage between one man and many women, but also between many women, or many men, or a mix of women and men.
•Photo shows Mr. Christensen.
Source News Express
My friend Claus Larsen lives in Denmark and offered his insight into this issue. Thank you Claus for your input. – Kitty
It is doubtful that there is a need for multilateral marriages in Denmark. It is not an issue that registers on any news scale, nor has it been accepted as official policy with the Liberal Alliance. There is nothing that prohibits any citizen from living as they please: There are a few remnant hippie collectives which perhaps could be said to live in a multilateral marriage-type situation, but the only group that multilateral marriages could be relevant to, would be those Muslims adhering to polygamy (one man has multiple wives). How many is unknown, but my guess would be relatively few. There are few socially and culturally demands for marriage anyway: In the past 50 years, Denmark has moved to a fluid family concept, where couples who live together, with kids, villa, doggie and Volvo, can be married or not. There are some legal advantages to being married: Married couples must mutually provide for the children, their economies becomes one, and either spouse can make legal agreements on behalf of the other. Which brings me to the main reason why Keld Christensen’s proposal will not be implemented: We are possibly the most computerized country in the world, with a highly integrated public sector. We have computer systems for everything, at all levels of public service. This is made possible because of one factor: Each citizen has a unique personal identification number, which follows him from cradle to beyond the grave (it is never reused). A lot of the systems are coded based on legislation that distinguishes between married and unmarried citizens. If you are married, you have one spouse attached in the systems. Were we to allow multilateral marriages, it would mean a massive overhaul of a considerable number of huge public IT systems, something that would most likely top the Y2K projects (ensuring that IT systems would work after the new millennium). This in turn would mean a huge cost to the tax payers, which is in direct conflict with the tax policies of the Liberal Alliance: They, more than anyone else, are the proponents of lower taxes, for everyone. Keld Christensen’s suggestion will not make it above hot air balloon status.
Nelson Dafe has kindly sent an update to this blog post. Thank you again!
A recent News Express report on a Danish politician’s call for the legalisation of polygamy in Denmark has sparked a lively cultural debate in the Nordic country.
Keld Christensen of the Liberal Alliance party of Denmark granted News Express an interview in which he discussed a speech he gave in Denmark titled ‘Cause The Greatest of All Is Love’. In it, he called the refusal to legalise polygamy in Denmark a “serious restriction of the citizens’ free choice.”
A popular American blogger, Kitty Mevine, who has a large Danish readership, put the News Express story on her blog, Yankee Skeptic. This has elicited a number of reactions from many Dannish people who have been commenting to support or oppose Mr. Christensen’s proposal.
Mevine requested a famous Danish skeptic Claus Larsen to offer his insight on the call to allow polygamy in Denmark and he responded with a scathing dismissal of Mr. Christensen’s call.
Larsen said: “It is doubtful that there is a need for multilateral marriages in Denmark. It is not an issue that registers on any news scale, nor has it been accepted as official policy with the Liberal
Larsen went further to argue that the computerised nature of the Danish system makes official recognition of polygamy very unlikely.
He said: “We are possibly the most computerised country in the world, with a highly integrated public sector. We have computer systems for everything, at all levels of public service. This is made possible because of one factor: Each citizen has a unique personal identification number, which follows him from cradle to beyond the grave (it is never reused). A lot of the systems are coded based on legislation that distinguishes between married and unmarried citizens. If you are married, you have one spouse attached in the systems. Were we to allow multilateral marriages, it would mean a massive overhaul of a considerable number of huge public IT systems, something that would most likely top the Y2K projects (ensuring that IT systems would work after the new millennium).
“This, in turn, would mean a huge cost to the tax payers, which is in direct conflict with the tax
policies of the Liberal Alliance: They, more than anyone else, are the proponents of lower taxes, for everyone. Keld Christensen’s suggestion will not make it above hot air balloon status.”
However, reacting to Larsen’s dismissal of his suggestion for the legalisation of polygamy, Mr. Christensen told News Express that placing technological systems above the human desire to live as free citizens is not right.
According to Christensen, “His (Larsen’s) reason for why this (legalisation of polygamy) wouldn’t work in Denmark (that we are one of the most computerised country in the world and our social security number that follows us from the cradle to the grave) just confirms my assumption of the present state of the Danish society: the system is more important than the liberty of the people.
“Claus Larsen tries to make the Danish system sound like an Utopia, but Denmark is no Utopia. We are from the cradle to the grave controlled and regulated. Apparently, it seems, the state puts itself higher than the people which it should protect and keep order within. To deny a group of persons to be married is not to protect them, it is to deny them their freedom. For sure, the system is never more important than the people it must represent and which legitimises its right to exist.”
The debate over the acceptance of polygamy (which is a popular form of marriage amongst many in Africa and the Muslim world) continues in Denmark!
Source News Express