BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman called Sunday for legalizing civil marriage in the country, arguing that such step would strengthen co-existence among citizens.
“We should work on legalizing civil marriage contracts, this would be a step forward to abolish sectarianism and enhance co-existence,” said the president via Twitter.
The topic was put in the spotlight recently when a local news outlet reported on the civil marriage in November last year between Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish, said to be the first of its kind. The marriage was based on an interpretation of Decree 60 from 1936, and the couple is still waiting for the marriage to be officiated by the Interior Ministry, according to reports.
The Lebanese state has recognized civil marriages conducted outside Lebanon since 1936, and efforts have been ongoing to bring the practice within Lebanon.
In 1998, then President Elias Hrawi drafted a bill proposing optional civil marriage. The bill was approved by the Cabinet only to be shelved due to opposition from then Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and many of the country’s religious authorities.
Intermittent attempts to introduce civil marriage have since fallen on deaf ears.
On March 18, 2011, a number of NGOs and secularist organizations submitted a draft law on civil marriage to Parliament, but the proposal was never debated.