BEIRUT: The recent civil marriage of a young Lebanese couple was not legally approved, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in remarks published Monday.
“It is not enough for Khouloud [Succariyeh] and Nidal [Darwish] to get married in order for civil marriage to be officiated in Lebanon,” said Charbel, who spoke to An-Nahar.
The topic was put in the spotlight recently when a local news outlet reported on the civil marriage in November last year between Succariyeh and Darwish, based on an interpretation of Decree 60 from 1936, which their lawyer says allows for individuals who remove their sect from their ID to marry outside religious institutions.
Charbel said that he personally supports the adoption of civil marriage in the country. However, he added that the marriage of the young couple cannot be officiated by the Interior Ministry.
Before getting married, Sukkariyeh and Darwish decided to delete mention of their sects from their personal status records, an option made legal by a decree passed in 2008 by then Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud.
According to Charbel, the adoption of civil marriage in Lebanon requires a detailed law that regulates the relationship between the couple before, during and after marriage.
“For such a law to be adopted in Parliament, it should deeply tackle the rights of the couple and should deal with divorce, inheritance and other issues,” said Charbel.
Charbel added that a law proposing optional civil marriage drafted by former President Elias Hrawi in 1998 was never referred to Parliament.
“The draft law remained in the drawers of the Cabinet back then and was not referred to the Parliament,” said the minister.
The bill drafted by Hrawi 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.
President Michel Sleiman said Monday via his Twitter account that he supports endorsing civil marriage in Lebanon.
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt Tuesday hailed Sleiman’s stance and said the adoption of civil marriage should be a step to break the sectarian barriers in the country.
Lebanese Forces MP Georges Adwan also said he supports the adoption of civil marriage in the country.
“I praise the two citizens for having the courage to do what no official has dared to do,” Adwan told reporters at Parliament.
“I want to tell them that we support you and we are ready to move things at the level of Parliament,” he added.