BEIRUT: The National Commission for Lebanese Women presented a legal study to Prime Minister Najib Mikati Wednesday, insisting he reconsider making amendments to the nationality law.
“Lebanese women were greatly disappointed by the outcome of the ministerial committee deliberations [in January], which rejected the proposed amendments to the nationality law that currently excludes Lebanese women [married to foreigners] from passing their citizenship on to their children,” Fadi Karam, secretary-general of the commission, said in the study.
The ministerial committee was tasked with studying a proposed amendment that would have allowed Lebanese women married to non-nationals to pass their nationality on to their children. This would allow them equal access to benefits including education and health care.
But the committee’s report, prepared for Prime Minister Najib Mikati in January, rejected the proposed changes on the grounds that they would upset the country’s sectarian balance and conflict with Lebanon’s constitutional precept banning the naturalization of Palestinians.
Activists have accused the committee of playing on sectarian fears and exploiting the sensitive topic of Palestinian refugees in order to avoid making the amendment.
The commission argued the committee’s report ignored the rights of Lebanese women and their children, and the constitutional provisions ensuring equality among all citizens.
Activists and rights-based groups staged numerous sit-ins to protest the ministerial committee’s decision after their report was leaked.
The committee report bore the signatures of five out of its six members: Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbel, Labor Minister Salim Jreissati, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi and Information Minister Walid Daouk.
Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour’s signature was absent. The minister later explained he had not been invited to the committee meetings and knew nothing about the report.