Countries Where Polygamy Is Legal 2022

Polygamy refers to a union of at least three persons. When it comes to marriage, the term monogamy refers to a union between just two individuals.

Polygamy is widespread in Africa, the Middle East, and portions of Southeast Asia, whereas monogamy is the norm in Europe and the United States. Pew Research issued in 2020 says that “just around 2 percent of the world population lives in polygamous homes.

It’s a hot-button issue, and it’s a hot-button issue for many people. People who advocate polygamy for religious reasons (usually Mormons) generally claim that additional parents in the home create a more stable and enriching environment for their children, especially in the Western world.

While proponents claim that the practice is kind, detractors claim it is harmful since it is based on the erroneous assumption that women are fundamentally less deserving than males.

Terms and definitions relating to polygamy

Polygamy is a broad word for any marriage involving three or more persons, regardless of gender. polygyny refers to a relationship with more than one spouse.

This is the most prevalent kind of polygamy and the most common legal. Polyandry refers to unions with one woman and at least two husbands.

Group Marriage refers to marriages with several husbands and wives. A polyamorous relationship is one in which all participants are aware and agree to various romantic relationships. Unrelated to marital unions It is the (outdated) belief that humankind’s many races developed from diverse sets of ancestors.

Although this phrase has nothing to do with polygamy, Polygeny is included in this section for clarification.

Views of religion on polygamy


Marital union is not considered sacred in Buddhism; it is seen as a secular event. As a result, each Buddhist nation has a different approach to polygamy. Polygamy was legalized in Thailand in 1955. However, it was forbidden in Myanmar in 2015.


Polygamy is condemned by the Roman Catholic Church and the vast majority of Protestant churches in the Christian world. On the other hand, the Lutheran Church welcomes certain polygamists, while the Anglican Communion determined in 1988 that polygamy was permitted in some situations.


This Christian group is well-known for its unusual attitude toward polygamy. Mormons in Utah’s Salt Lake City ward practiced polygamy, dubbed multiple marriages, for more than a decade between 1847 and 1890. Polygamy was declared illegal in the United States in 1862, primarily due to pressure from the LDS Church.

The church abolished polygamy in 1890 and disputed it in 1904 as it became clear that the practice’s continued support would jeopardize Utah’s bid to become a state.

Among certain tiny Mormon communities that have separated from the LDS Church and the general population, polygamy is still practiced but not recognized by the law.


Polygamy is permitted under Hindu law. However, the rules differ from nation to country. Polygamy was permitted in Hindu tradition if the first wife could not give birth to a son. Polygamy is permitted in Balinese Hinduism. However, marriages are governed by adat or customary norms.


Unlike other major religions, Islam’s holy books imply that polygamy is acceptable in the faith. Surah 4 An-Nisa (Women) states that a man may marry up to four women under certain conditions. Many Muslim nations allow a man to have up to four wives by this Quran.

In other cases, the man and his first wife must also agree on whether or not he intends to be monogamous or polygamous as part of their marriage agreement. If she disallows it, he cannot marry another woman while they are still married.

Polyandry, the practice of a woman having numerous spouses, is still illegal.

Islam’s tolerance of polygamy is shown by the fact that polygamy is most popular in Muslim-majority countries like the Middle East or North/Central Africa.

In contrast, it is outlawed in most other places. Polygamous marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims are permitted in certain nations but not in others.


Abraham, David, and Jacob are among the most well-known Jewish figures who have polygamous/plural marriages in the Torah. Modern Jews, on the other hand, have disputed the practice, much like most current Christians (whose Old Testament mimics the Torah).

Polygamy is legal and widely accepted across the world.

According to the laws of each country, polygamy is either outlawed, accepted, or encouraged. Polygyny is most prevalent in nations that allow or promote the practice.

Where monogamous marriage is the sole legal form of matrimony, de facto polygamy is permitted so long as the practice of adultery is not itself prohibited. There is no legal recognition for extra wives beyond the first in places like these where polygamy is prohibited yet accepted.

All 50 states in the United States and every nation in North and South America prohibit and punish polygamy. A criminal charge of consenting polygamy in Utah was downgraded to the equivalent of a traffic ticket in February 2020 by the state’s House and Senate.

Polygamous marriages are not legal in Europe and Oceania, save in the Solomon Islands. Polygamous marriages are legal in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, but only for Muslims. Polygamy is illegal in Australia.

However, certain indigenous Australian groups have polygamous partnerships. While polygamy is allowed in certain parts of Indonesia, it is not permitted in others. Polygamy has been practiced by the Balinese and Papuans for generations in Balinese Hinduism.

No legal changes were made due to Indonesia’s 2008 protests against polygamy.

Polygamy is forbidden under civil law in several African nations, but it is acceptable under customary law, which recognizes practices that society has long recognized as legitimate.

Liberia, Malawi, and Sierra Leone, for example, can accept and even advocate polygamous weddings because of a legal loophole that results in two forms of marriage: civil marriages and customary or religious marriages.

Polygamous marriages may be recognized in many Muslim nations if the husband notifies his first wife that he plans to add more wives, and she agrees to it before the marriage begins. As long as the husband is married to his first wife, he is not permitted to marry any other woman.

Also See: Countries Where Incest Is Legal 2022

Even in nations where polygamy has been illegal, other countries may still recognize polygamous unions. Sweden recognizes polygamous marriages made outside of Sweden.

On a case-by-case basis, polygamous marriages in other nations are managed in Switzerland. Australia acknowledges foreign polygamous marriages in certain cases, but only if specific conditions are met.

CountryDetails2022 Population
AfghanistanPolygyny legal for up to four wives40754.3880
AlgeriaPolygyny legal for up to four wives, but increasingly rare45350.1480
AngolaTechnically illegal, but still practiced35027.3430
BahrainPolygyny legal for up to four wives, but rare.1783.9830
BangladeshLegal and recognized, but often heavily taxed167885.6890
BhutanLegal (including polyandry via customary law) but not civilly recognized. Increasingly rare787.9410
BotswanaIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law2441.1620
BrazilTechnically illegal, but decriminalized. Marriage-like união estável ("stable union") ceremonies between three or more people have been performed."215353.5930
BruneiLegal and recognized445.4310
Burkina FasoTechnically illegal, but still practiced22102.8380
BurundiTechnically illegal, but still practiced12624.8400
CambodiaTechnically illegal, but still practiced17168.6390
CameroonPolygyny legal, no limit on number of wives.27911.5480
Central African RepublicPolygyny legal for up to four wives, but increasingly rare. Before marrying first wife, husband must get her permission to marry more wives in the future.5016.6780
ChadLegal and common, even among Christians17413.5800
DjiboutiPolygyny legal for up to four wives1016.0970
DR CongoTechnically illegal, but still practiced95240.7920
EgyptLegal and recognized106156.6920
Equatorial GuineaTechnically illegal, but still practiced1496.6620
EswatiniLegal and recognized. but rare1184.8170
GabonLegal in both forms, but only practiced by men. Couples must declare any polygamous intent before first marriage, but men are allowed to change their answer later.2331.5330
GambiaPolygyny legal for up to four wives; common2558.4820
GhanaTechnically illegal, but still practiced32395.4500
GuineaPolygyny legal for up to four wives, but before marrying first wife, husband must get her permission to marry more wives in the future.13865.6910
IndiaPolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims.1406631.7760
IndonesiaLegal, but rules vary by province279134.5050
IranLegal and recognized86022.8370
IraqLegal and recognized (except for Kurdistan)42164.9650
IsraelTechnically illegal, but still practiced8922.8920
JordanLegal and recognized10300.8690
KazakhstanTechnically illegal, but still practiced19205.0430
KenyaPolygyny legal for up to four wives56215.2210
KuwaitLegal and recognized4380.3260
LaosTechnically illegal, but still practiced7481.0230
LebanonPolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims.6684.8490
LesothoIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law2175.6990
LiberiaIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law5305.1170
LibyaPolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims. Uncommon.7040.7450
MadagascarTechnically illegal, but still practiced29178.0770
MalawiIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law20180.8390
MalaysiaPolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims. Requires court permission33181.0720
MaldivesLegal and recognized, provided the husband can demonstrate financial ability to support multiple wives540.9850
MaliPolygyny legal for up to four wives. Before marrying first wife, husband must get her permission to marry more wives in the future. However, some husbands circumvent this with informal "religious" marriages."21473.7640
MauritaniaPolygyny legal for up to four wives, but husband must get his existing wife's/wives' consent before marrying additional wives4901.9810
MauritiusTechnically illegal, but still practiced1274.7270
MoroccoLegal, but husband must be able to support additional wives financially and must have written permission from first wife.37772.7560
MozambiqueTechnically illegal, but still practiced33089.4610
NamibiaIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law2633.8740
NepalTechnically illegal, but still practiced30225.5820
NigerIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law26083.6600
NigeriaPolygyny legal for up to four wives in Sharia Muslim states only216746.9340
OmanLegal and recognized5323.9930
PakistanPolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims. Men must prove ability to financially support multiple wives, existing wives can forbid polygamy in marriage contract.229488.9940
PalestinePolygyny legal up to four wives. First wife can forbid polygamy in marriage contract.5345.5410
PhilippinesPolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims.112508.9940
QatarLegal and recognized2979.9150
Republic of the CongoPolygyny legal, but before marrying first wife, husband must get her permission to marry more wives in the future.5797.8050
RussiaTechnically illegal, but tolerated in Muslim regions (for example: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan).145805.9470
RwandaTechnically illegal, but still practiced13600.4640
Sao Tome and PrincipeLegal and recognized227.6790
Saudi ArabiaLegal and recognized35844.9090
SenegalLegal and recognized17653.6710
Sierra LeoneIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law8306.4360
SingaporePolygyny legal up to four wives, but only for Muslims.5943.5460
Solomon IslandsLegal and recognized721.1590
SomaliaLegal and recognized16841.7950
South AfricaIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law [polygyny only]. Court permission required.60756.1350
South SudanLegal and recognized11618.5110
Sri LankaLegal and recognized, including polyandry21575.8420
SudanLegal and recognized45992.0200
SyriaLegal (except for Kurdistan)19364.8090
TanzaniaLegal and recognized63298.5500
ThailandTechnically illegal, but still practiced70078.2030
Timor-LesteTechnically illegal, but still practiced1369.4290
TogoLegal and recognized8680.8370
UgandaLegal and recognized48432.8630
United Arab EmiratesPolygyny legal for up to four wives.10081.7850
YemenPolygyny legal for up to four wives.31154.8670
ZambiaRecognized under customary law. In some tribes, before marrying first wife, husband must get her permission to marry more wives in the future.19470.2340
ZimbabweIllegal under civil law, allowed under customary law15331.4280

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