Berri: Civil Marriage Not on the Table, Can't be Toleratedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The issue of legalizing optional civil marriage in Lebanon is “not on the table and no one tolerates it,” Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Tuesday.
“Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan did not say anything wrong. She only said that she would hold consultations over the issue,” Berri added, responding to a question during a meeting with a delegation from the Press Syndicate.
Al-Hassan's remarks have stirred renewed debate in Lebanon over the thorny issue, after the minister said she would seek “serious and profound dialogue over the topic with all religious authorities and other officials.”
Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim religious authority, has warned that civil marriage “totally contradicts with the rules of Islamic sharia and also violates the stipulations of the Lebanese constitution.”
Civil unions still have no clear legal basis in Lebanon, a multi-confessional country of some four million people. Most faiths have their own regulations governing marriage, divorce and inheritance, and mixed Christian-Muslim weddings in Lebanon are discouraged unless one of the spouses converts.
Lebanese authorities recognize civil marriages registered abroad, and it has become common for mixed-faith couples to marry in nearby Cyprus.
Former president Elias Hrawi in 1998 proposed a civil marriage law, which gained approval from the Cabinet only to be halted amid widespread opposition from the country’s religious authorities.
And in a country rife with deep-rooted sectarian tensions, many still oppose such unions, with some Muslims arguing that civil marriage is contrary to Islamic law and some Christians having concerns that such a law would diminish Christian presence in Lebanon.