BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Interior Ministry is yet to examine a ruling by a Justice Ministry committee that approved a recent civil marriage conducted in Lebanon, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told The Daily Star Tuesday.
“I will look into the ruling of the committee before approving it,” said Charbel.
The Higher Committee for Consultations in the Justice Ministry Monday approved the marriage of Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish, a young couple that recently requested to register their civil marriage in Lebanon after removing their sects from their official documents.
Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi said Tuesday that he referred a copy of the committee’s ruling to the interior ministry.
“I referred the ruling of the committee including all legal explanations to the Interior Ministry,” said the minister in a statement.
According to the ruling, a public notary is entitled to uphold the marriage of Lebanese citizens who don’t belong to any sect, or who have removed sectarian affiliations from their official documents.
Charbel dismissed a report by the couple’s lawyer Talal Husseini that the couple no longer needs the Interior Ministry’s approval for their marriage.
“They will definitely need the ministry’s approval or else they won’t be able to register their marriage,” the minister said.
According to Charbel, his ministry isn’t committed to approving the committee’s opinion and has yet to decide on the matter.
“The committee is a consultative one and its rule is not binding to the ministry,” said Charbel.
The case of Succariyeh and Darwish has reignited the debate over civil marriage in the country.
Although their step was hailed by President Michel Sleiman, Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani and the Higher Shiite Council said they oppose the right for civil marriage in the country.
Christian leaders have appeared more relaxed over the issue, with the Council of Maronite Bishops saying civil and religious marriages can go hand in hand.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri also surprisingly came out in support of civil marriage. However, Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said it is not the right time or right political circumstances to discuss the matter