Cabinet Fails to Tackle Controversial Civil Marriage Issue

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The cabinet did not discuss the thorny issue of civil marriage during its session on Wednesday, the information minister announced, although more than 50 marriage contracts are awaiting approval at the Directorate General of Personal Status.

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had on Tuesday declared that the issue would be discussed from outside the cabinet's agenda after coming under the fire of the civil society.

“The issue of civil marriage was not discussed during the session and the interior minister has the jurisdiction to take a decision, and if he raises it during the next session we will discuss it,” Information Minister Ramzi Jreij announced after a cabinet session at the Grand Serail.

“In my opinion, optional civil marriage is a solution to the problem of wedding outside Lebanon,” Jreij added.

“Until the approval of an optional civil marriage law, marriage contracts can be registered with notaries, without the need to travel to Cyprus to bypass the law,” the minister went on to say.

In comments published Wednesday in An Nahar newspaper, former interior minister Ziad Baroud expressed astonishment that the civil marriage issue returned to square one after the registration of seven marriages so far.

“How can couples who are undergoing the same legal process be treated in a different and contradicting matter?” Baroud wondered.

Baroud stressed that “the failure to endorse a law that organizes civil marriage doesn't turn such marriages illegal as long as they don't violate the Lebanese system.”

In 2013, caretaker interior minister Marwan Charbel signed the civil marriage certificate of Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish, in an unprecedented move, after they removed the reference of their sects from their respective IDs and based their marital contract on Decree No. 60 L.R.

The couple became the first civil marriage registered in the records of the Directorate General for Personal Affairs in Lebanon.

The Lebanese Supreme Council in the Ministry of Justice took a unanimous decision in February last year to consider legal all civil marriages conducted in Lebanon by people who do not have any religious affiliation.

Notary Joseph Beshara told the daily that the issue is “humanitarian and legal,” noting the state can't prevent any couple from getting married, in particular if they practiced their freedom of belief and had de-listed themselves from their sect's registration.

“In this case they are obliged to be married according to civil rules.”

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 Preamble to the Constitution, which endorses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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.


Comments 12
Missing 04 February 2015, 09:16

Civil marriage in Lebanon is a must to escape from the fists of the religious oligarchs.

Thumb _mowaten_ 04 February 2015, 18:04

For once i agree with you, mandatory religious marriage is an aberration.

Default-user-icon Guest (Guest) 04 February 2015, 09:42

Of all the problems Lebanon faces they want to get bogged down over people having civil ceremonies for marriage

Default-user-icon TheCh (Guest) 04 February 2015, 13:21

what you call a "secondary issue" in fact reflects perfectly what is wrong with our country: religious mafias that possess far too much power for everyone's good

Default-user-icon TheCh (Guest) 04 February 2015, 13:22

what you call a "secondary issue" reflects perfectly what is wrong with our country: religious mafias that possess far too much power for everyone's good.

Thumb kanaanljdid 04 February 2015, 20:10

This is actually the core of all problems in Lebanon: ta2ifiyyeh, racism and religious coercition.

Only civil mariage and ONE Lebanese national community will save this country.

Thumb ex-fpm 04 February 2015, 12:03

لوزير ريفي قبيل بدء جلسة مجلس الوزراء: أؤيّد موقف الرئيس الشهيد رفيق الحريري في ما خص الزواج المدني.
11:03الوزير محمد فنيش قبل الجلسة الحكومية: لا مكان للزواج المدني في لبنان.

Missing greatpierro 04 February 2015, 12:44

Strange that fneich declares such a statement. The lebanese constitution and laws says specifically that people can choose to delist themselves from their sect registry. As such people who do not belong to a sect registry abide by the civil rules.

The declaration of Fneish shows that some politicians and religious rules want to impose by force that people remain under their sect regardless of the essential liberty that people are entitled under the lebanese constitution.

Missing greatpierro 04 February 2015, 13:03

if you read well the quote is from Rifi an not hariri.

Default-user-icon _mowaten_ (Guest) 04 February 2015, 13:16

hi ".kyalami." i see you have a new alias, yet speak like an old timer of this forum. could it be that you're a troll posting under different names every time? could it?

Default-user-icon holy crap (Guest) 04 February 2015, 13:18

but doesn't nassrallah always quote rafik hariri in his speeches and says "harrier told me this and harriri said that" or when nassrallah quotes harriri he comes back from the dead?

Thumb kanaanljdid 04 February 2015, 20:09

But the majority of the sane people agree with you 7abibe