Cultural values change from one country to another, and some common practices may even be considered a criminal offense in different places of the world. In this article, we will learn more about how bigamy is viewed in Brazil.
Bigamy and Brazilian Law
First of all, it is necessary to say that bigamy, by law, is completely forbidden in Brazil, with severe penalties when it happens. According to an article in the Penal Code created in 1940, the penalty for the crime of bigamy is imprisonment, from two to six years.
Normally by Brazilian law, only the person that is already married is regarded as a criminal. However, if someone - knowing that their husband or wife is already legally married - marries another person, this person may also be regarded as a criminal in Brazil. In these cases, the person can be charged with fraudulent misrepresentation. If convicted, this person will be subject to penalty of imprisonment ranging from one to five years, plus a fine.
Finally, there is an additional clause in the Brazilian Penal Code about bigamy that says that if the first or second wedding was annulled for any reason other than the bigamy itself, the crime is considered as non-existent.
Marriages Performed Abroad
Technically, when Brazilians get married outside of Brazil, they must register their marriage certificate with the Brazilian consulate or at a public notary office in Brazil within 180 days of the wedding date. But this requirement has been overlooked lately, since Brazilian law understands that marriages performed abroad - provided that they are done in respect of the legal formalities of the country in which they are held - is a lawful act.
Foreign Bigamous Unions in Brazil
The legal status of bigamy, or even polygamy varies around the world, as it is accepted in nearly fifty countries, mostly Muslim or African states. Some exceptions include the United Kingdom and Australia.
In Australia, polygamy is legal, but only when the union is based on religious or cultural reasons - as it is commonly practiced among the Aboriginal population. In the United Kingdom, polygamous unions are accepted, provided that they have been performed in countries where it is legal. In this case, partners are even allowed welfare benefits, although they are strictly limited.
As stated previously, bigamy is completely forbidden in Brazil. But, as Brazil holds sovereignty only over its own territory and citizens, Brazilian law cannot interfere with other countries’ legal systems. Therefore, Brazil has no legitimacy to dissolve bigamous or polygamous unions that do not involve Brazilians.
This means that if there is a bigamous or polygamous union wanting to come to Brazil on a visa, it is important to remember that the Brazilian government will only consider the first marriage that took place as valid, since all other marriages taking place after the first one are considered illegal and devoid of legal value. Thus, the marriages that happened after the first one can not enjoy the benefits of being married to the holder of the Brazilian visa.