Cabinet Ministers Back Suleiman's Call for Drafting Civil Marriage Law

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Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi announced on Monday their support for civil marriage in Lebanon but said the issue requires a regulatory law a day after President Michel Suleiman called for legalizing it.

Charbel told An Nahar newspaper that he backed the adoption of civil marriage in Lebanon but said “this requires a detailed law that regulates the relationship between the couple before, during and after marriage.”

Such a law that could only be adopted by the parliament should deeply tackle the rights of the couple and should deal with divorce, inheritance and other issues, he said.

Charbel's remarks came following criticism that his ministry failed to approve the unprecedented civil marriage of a Lebanese couple that relied on Decree No. 60 L.R.

Kholoud Sukkariyah and Nidal Darwish challenged the sectarian personal status code and tied the knot last November by removing the reference of their sects from their respective IDs and basing their marital contract on the decree which Charbel said was issued in 1936 by French high commissioner Comte Damien de Martel when a Lebanese princess made a request to marry a Frenchman.

“But this doesn't mean that we can rely on the decree and allow for civil marriage without the regulatory measures,” Charbel told An Nahar.

Asked about the proposal of a similar law during former President Elias Hrawi's tenure in 1998, he said: “The draft-law remained in the drawers of the cabinet at the time and wasn't referred to the parliament.”

The proposal had gained approval from the cabinet only to be halted amid widespread opposition from the country’s religious authorities.

Charbel also stressed that the request to register the marriage of Sukkariyah and Darwish was referred to the justice ministry months ago. But the ministry's consultative authority rejected it for lack of laws that regulate civil marriage in Lebanon.

“Any similar request will not receive a positive response,” he told An Nahar after Sukkariyah accused him of “disappearing.”

“Legal counselor Talal al-Husseini is following up the case in its legal aspect,” she said, adding “Charbel disappeared since we announced our matrimony.”

But the positive aspect of their union was Suleiman's announcement on Sunday that Lebanon should work on drafting a civil marriage law.

“It is a very important step in eradicating sectarianism and solidifying national unity," he wrote in Arabic and English on his Facebook page.

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.

Sukkariyah expressed hope that “the president would increase pressure to give the Lebanese people the right to get married in their country.”

Minister Qortbawi promised to investigate the reasons that led to the consultative authority's rejection of her request, saying he was “unaware of its details.”

Qortbawi also announced in remarks to An Nahar his backing for civil marriage as a choice but similar to Charbel he called for the swift adoption of a law that regulates the relationship between a man and his wife.

Comments 7
Thumb jabalamel 21 January 2013, 11:37

the wahabi/zionist siniora government never had an idea to pass that into law.
and the so called m14 supporters here talk about modern lebanon, civil right and so on, they also see m14 as "progresssive" but how do they explain that m14 government never tried to push that subject?

Thumb lebneneh 21 January 2013, 14:02

Marriage is marriage. What do you care whether the law is religious or civil. If you want to get married under a religious law go ahead but don't force others to follow your rules. Do you not have any friends who got married in Cyprus or Turkey? Did you stop talking to them because they had a civil marriage? ooooooooh! Why do you think civil marriage is wrong?! Because your sheik or moutran would loose some of his influence? Grow up and open your eyes!

Thumb shab 21 January 2013, 16:40


Missing gcb1 21 January 2013, 18:09

The state should stay out of our bedrooms. Civil marriage should and must be adopted.

Default-user-icon Marry Me (Guest) 21 January 2013, 20:47

"The proposal had gained approval from the cabinet only to be halted amid widespread opposition from the country’s religious authorities."

Why? Religious authorities are not elected by the people, so they should have no say in parliamentary affairs

Missing peace 21 January 2013, 21:28

"The proposal had gained approval from the cabinet only to be halted amid widespread opposition from the country’s religious authorities."

just as it is going to happen again... religious authorities make money out of their family laws! it is not a question of religions but money for them!

Thumb whyaskwhy 22 January 2013, 06:18

Its not the state GCB, its what is reffered to as seperating the "church from the state" in otherwords giving the authority to the state to allow folks to marry and not exclusively the other way around.
The word "church" is used but in actuality it could be the Mosque, Synagogue or another relgious institution.