BEIRUT: The first child of the first civilly married couple in Lebanon was born last month, his parents announced over the weekend.
Nidal Darwish and Kholoud Succariyeh posted a photo of their son Ghaddi’s registration form on their Facebook pages Saturday, with the “sect” field left blank. He was born on Sept. 30.
President Michel Sleiman congratulated the couple in a message posted on Twitter late Sunday.
“Congratulations to Nidal and Kholoud and to the Lebanese people for the birth of Ghaddi, the first newborn to be registered without a sect,” Sleiman wrote.
Succariyeh and Darwish announced in January they had wed with a civil contract by having their religious sects legally struck from their family registers under an article dating from 1936. Their marriage was processed in May.
“He is the first child to a civil marriage on Lebanese territory,” said Talal Husseini, the couple’s lawyer and a pro-civil marriage activist. “I was very happy and the couple was very happy too.”
Husseini denied that the lack of a designated sect for the baby would impact his civil rights, such as by preventing his voting in elections.
He said rumors about loss of rights were started by individuals opposed to civil marriage who wished to spread misinformation in order to deter the public from the practice.
“This is not true at all,” he said. “We clarified that the rights of the individuals are protected and asked anyone who is being denied his rights to contact us and we are ready to protect his rights.”
Husseini said the son would not be denied an inheritance either as the couple and their child would still be governed by civil laws or religion.
“Legally striking out [the sect] does not lead to a loss of inheritance because it means a refusal to make the faith public, it doesn’t mean that if he is Christian or Muslim he stops being Christian or Muslim,” he said.
Husseini said activists would soon announce a new step in the campaign to legalize civil marriage, but declined to elaborate.