Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Beirut over the weekend to demand the introduction of civil marriage in Lebanon.
Israel’s northern neighbour does not currently recognise civil marriage at all, forcing interfaith couples to either cohabit or travel abroad if they wish to wed. But momentum appears to be building for a change in the law.
Activists and students and activists marched on the Interior Ministry on Sunday, calling on the government to make non-religious weddings available. Many displayed banners personally criticising Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk for failing to recognise civil marriages.
But, according to Lebanese news site The Daily Star, a defiant Machnouk insisted that his “position on civil marriage will not change”. Civil law in Lebanon does not currently accommodate issues of “personal status”, the Minister declared. He declared:
“Let them go to Parliament and demand a civil law on personal status, then I will be the first one to sign [civil marriage contracts].”
The only way to achieve a civil marriage under current Lebanese law is for both parties to remove all religious affiliations from official documents, Sputnik News reports. Couples who are not officially members of any of the country’s recognised religions can be married, under a decree dating back to 1936,