Suleiman Voices Support for Civil Marriageإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
President Michel Suleiman on Sunday expressed support for a law allowing civil marriages, currently illegal in Lebanon, saying it will help build unity in the multi-faith country.
"We should work on drafting a civil marriage law. It is a very important step in eradicating sectarianism and solidifying national unity," Suleiman wrote in Arabic and English on his Facebook page.
His views appeared alongside a photo of a man carrying his daughter on his shoulders at a rally. She is seen holding a stuffed animal and a sign reading "civil marriage, not civil war."
After only five hours online, Suleiman's post garnered more than 2,000 likes and elicited a string of comments, overwhelmingly in favor of the law.
On his Twitter account, Suleiman further asked his followers to share their opinions about civil marriage in Lebanon.
Famed Lebanese singer Elissa tweeted: "Might civil marriage encourage our politicians not to hide behind their fingers and enrich diversity in our beloved country."
Despite a long-running campaign by civil groups, such weddings still have no legal basis in Lebanon.
Former President Elias Hrawi in 1998 proposed a similar law, which gained approval from the cabinet only to be halted amid widespread opposition from the country’s religious authorities.
Most religious faiths have their own regulations governing marriage, divorce and inheritance, and mixed Christian-Muslim weddings in Lebanon are often discouraged unless one of the potential spouses converts.
The Lebanese authorities recognize civil weddings only if they have been registered abroad, and it has become common for mixed-faith couples to marry in nearby Cyprus.
Researchers and legal experts at the Civil Center for National Initiative said on Saturday that there are no obstacles in front of civil marriage in Lebanon for those who decide to remove their sects from their IDs, LBCI television reported.
“The 1936's law is more advanced and open than the ones adopted nowadays,” Change and Reform bloc MP Ghassan Moukheiber expressed in an interview with LBCI.
He stated: “We demand the state to take into consideration those that are not affiliated with any religion or sect”.
“The biggest challenge today is building citizenship,” he added.
The discussion on this issue comes soon after reports broke out about a Lebanese couple that challenged the sectarian personal status code in Lebanon and tied the knot in a first of a kind civil marriage in the country on November 11, 2012.
Kholoud Sukkariyah and Nidal Darwish removed the reference of their sects from their respective IDs and based their marital contract on Decree No. 60 L.R.
The decree, which organizes and recognizes religious communities and grants them rights, says those who are not affiliated with a sect are subject to the civil law of personal status, as well as to the introduction of the Constitution which adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.