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There are only 2 countries in the Middle East where polygamy is illegal: Israel and Turkey.

There are only 2 countries in the Middle East that are true democracies: Israel and Turkey. Lebanon is controlled by Hezbollah. Egypt and the rest is recent.

Has it always been like this?

Notice that Indonesia allow polygamy for Muslims, even though it's a democracy. However, thugs often enforce power and it's still very politically incorrect. Also Arab males that engage in contract marriage sometimes get kicked out if found out (even though it's legal). So it's so politically incorrect you still can't practice it openly unless you're a person with some form of influence or control.

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Out of the 190 countries in the world, any particular reason to look at only two? And any sources to back up your claims of democracy or lack of it would be good too. –  apoorv020 Dec 14 '11 at 9:52
Some other democratic countries that allow polygamy (in some form or other) : India, Pakistan*, Bangladesh. –  apoorv020 Dec 14 '11 at 10:17
Marriage laws in India are dependent upon the religion of the subject in question. Although the Vedas and the Hindu religion itself do not outlaw polygamy, the terms under the Hindu Marriage Act has deemed polygamy to be illegal for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Only Muslim men in India are allowed to have multiple wives, since they are governed under Sharia law. - Technically allowed but politically incorrect. –  Jim Thio Dec 14 '11 at 10:32
Their dominant culture doesn't allow it and only a minority of them can do it. Namely the muslim. It's like Malaysia allowing chinese to gamble. –  Jim Thio Dec 14 '11 at 10:33
yea. I would say from 0 to 100%, India prohibition to polygamy is 80%. Just like in US you can have polyarmory if you don't rub it out on their nose. So US is like 90% too. –  Jim Thio Dec 14 '11 at 10:37

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

prohibition of polygamy most certainly doesn't correlate with democracy.

  • Polygamy was prohibited in the entire Christendom throughout Dark Ages and absolute monarchies - not exactly the best circumstances for Democracy. Same with USSR and Nazi Germany.

  • On the other side of the matter, modern western democracies and USA are fairly obviously evolving into societies where polygamy will soon be legal (never mind practiced - what with French and their fabled stables of mistresses :))). I don't mean to sound like a homophobic zealot, but looking at things from legal standpoint, if you legalize marriage between ANY non-monogamic heterosexual couple (like, say, legalizing gay marriage), there is very little legal ground not to legalize any other marital arrangements.

    As a matter of fact, BDSMish subcultures practice poly* arrangements nearly openly these days.

As to whether prohibition of polygamy is necessary for democracy, that is less clear. I'm not aware of any research supporting or refuting this, but a fairly plausible argument can be made that any culture which has polygamy (and not polyamory) might be LESS likely to be democratic in historic context, since in a true democracy, with average male/female distribution, the non-mated males would at some point organize and vote in the prohibition (unless they are explicitly excluded from franchise).

Also, as a side note, please don't confuse democracy with things that kinda look like democracy (hint: Egypt may have had elections, doesn't necessarily make it a democracy, 95% of the power is split between the military and Muslim Brotherood. Oh, and USSR used to have those nice democratic elections all the time).

Also, don't confuse "democracy for some" with what you may think of as democracy. While franchise restriction always exists and will exist (e.g., any society would likely stop convicted killers from voting), you can for example have extremely-limited-franchise democracy like city states of Ancient Greece (VERY VERY few people were entitled to a vote, none of them women, and few of them with no access to mates).

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"modern western democracies and USA are fairly obviously evolving into societies where polygamy will soon be legal" - I'm not sure where you get this and your straw man argument of legalized marriage has never been proven. If you remove this I think your answer stands up better, otherwise it is argumentative and speculative. –  MichaelF Dec 12 '11 at 12:03
@MichaelF - moreover, that argument is pretty important to my answer, since it's the best example that a modernt democracy like OP meant can very well have legalized polygamy. –  DVK Dec 12 '11 at 15:22
@DVK, it's hardly a personal attack. Legalizing Gay Marriage is not going to lead to polygamy. If you want to believe that it's up to you, but there is no causal link between the two. Nor have I seen any evolution towards polygamy in Western Democracies, if you have evidence show that but as I said it is out of sorts with the rest of your answer which I have no problems with. –  MichaelF Dec 12 '11 at 15:47
@T.E.D. - simple. I can randomly find tons of poly families in kink subculture that are fairly open about it. NONE of them have ever been in any trouble with the law over it in the last 20 years. If you want specific legal proof, short of 5+ Supreme Court justices saying so, nobody can prove it to you either way. I can ask around for legal opinions but they won't mean squat. –  DVK Jul 3 '12 at 21:24
@T.E.D. - the point is, if The Man/cops wanted to harrass people over it (they way they had homosexuals 80+ years ago, or in USSR much more recently), they easily could have. It's not some deep hidden underground, they post personals ads on free personals sites. Given that civil government recognition of marriage is a very recent invention, the fact that polygamists aren't yet married by the Citi Hall is not the important part as far as "prohibition". Find a Wicca priest, they will happily marry your polygamist family. Nobody will arrest you for it. Q.E.D. –  DVK Jul 3 '12 at 21:52

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