BEIRUT: Activists in support of legalizing civil marriage in Lebanon called over the weekend on Lebanese to participate in a demonstration to be held next week over the controversial subject.
A group of independent activists said in a statement Saturday the protest would be held Monday at 4 p.m. at Martyrs’ Square in Downtown Beirut.
The protesters will call for a civil law that ensures the rights of citizens and allows for civil marriage in the country.
The controversy over the legalization of civil marriage was renewed earlier this month when President Michel Sleiman voiced his support for its adoption, saying the Constitution guaranteed it as a civil right.
Sleiman proclaimed his support days after a couple who had deleted mention of their religious identity from their civil registration document attempted to make their civil wedding official.
Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish announced they had wed as a secular couple and that they were awaiting the Interior Ministry’s formal recognition of their marriage document.
Religious leaders are split on the issue of civil marriage in Lebanon, which officially recognizes 18 different sects.
The staunchest opposition to civil marriage has come from the country’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani. The Sunni preacher has issued an edict, or fatwa, on the matter and warned Muslim politicians and ministers not to support introducing civil weddings.
While most Sunni and Shiite preachers have taken firm stances against it, Christian spiritual figures have voiced a far greater willingness to consider civil unions outside religious institutions.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati says he believes now is not the right time for the issue to be discussed.
On Thursday, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri voiced support for civil weddings and criticized the grand mufti over his stances on the subject.