Lebanese demand civil marriage on home soil

1 / 2
Lebanese demonstrators carry placards during a gathering against the ongoing ban on civil unions outside the Ministry of Interior in the capital Beirut on February 23, 2019. (AFP)
2 / 2
Lebanese demonstrators carry placards during a gathering against the ongoing ban on civil unions outside the Ministry of Interior in the capital Beirut on February 23, 2019. Arabic writing on placard reads:"I want civil marriage in Lebanon because I have a phobia of flying." (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019

Lebanese demand civil marriage on home soil

BEIRUT: Dozens of protesters rallied in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Saturday, calling on the government to recognise civil marriages carried out on home soil.
The demonstrators gathered in front of Lebanon's interior ministry, days after recently-appointed Interior Minister Raya al-Hasan said she is willing to engage in "serious and profound dialogue" over the issue.
The minister's comments prompted a backlash from religious bodies, including the highest Sunni authority in Lebanon, and stirred debate on social media.
Lebanon has 15 separate personal status laws for its recognised religions but no civil code covering issues such as marriage.
Many Lebanese couples travel to neighbouring Cyprus to tie the knot in a civil ceremony, because Lebanese authorities recognise such unions only if they have been registered abroad.
Hasan, the first female interior minister in Lebanon and the Arab world, touched on the issue of civil unions in an interview with Euronews last week.
She said she would "personally endorse" attempts to establish a framework to govern civil marriages in Lebanon.
"I will try to open the door for serious and profound dialogue on this issue with all religious authorities and others, with the support of Prime Minister Saad Hariri," she said.
Dar al-Fatwa, the highest Sunni authority in Lebanon, issued a response the day after Hasan's interview was published, saying it "categorically rejects" civil unions conducted on Lebanese soil.
Such unions "violate the provisions of Islamic law" and "contravene the provisions of the Lebanese constitution" regarding the authority of religious courts over personal status issues, it said.
The highest Shiite authority in the country also expressed opposition.
"The Lebanese constitution recognises that every sect has its own personal status laws," deputy head of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council said Friday.
"We strongly oppose civil marriage because it violates the constitution," he said.
The head of Lebanon's Maronite church, Beshara Rai, however, said he was "not against civil unions" conducted on Lebanese territory.
In 2013, the interior ministry took the unprecedented step of registering a civil marriage conducted in Lebanon.
However, only a handful of civil marriages have been recognised since the landmark decision, campaigner Lucien Bourjeily told AFP on Saturday.
Former president Elias Hrawi in 1998 proposed a civil marriage law, which gained approval from the cabinet only to be halted amid widespread opposition from the country's religious authorities.


Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

Updated 14 min 14 sec ago

Bahrain to join US-led efforts to protect Gulf navigation

  • Bahrain’s King Hamad voiced his appreciation of the US role in supporting 'regional security and stability'
  • US is seeking coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf

DUBAI: Bahrain said Monday it would join US-led efforts to protect shipping in the Arabian Gulf amid tensions between Washington and Tehran after a series of attacks on tankers.
Bahrain’s King Hamad voiced his country’s appreciation of the “US role in supporting regional security and stability” during a meeting with US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth McKenzie, state media said.
“The king confirmed the kingdom of Bahrain’s participation in the joint effort to preserve the safety of international maritime navigation and secure international corridors for trade and energy,” the official Bahrain News Agency reported.
The US has been seeking to form a coalition to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
Britain, which already has warships on protection duty in the Gulf after a UK-flagged tanker was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, has said it will join the planned operation.
But other European countries have declined to join, for fear of harming European efforts to rescue a 2015 treaty with Iran over its nuclear program.
Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, said last month that it would co-host a conference with the US on “maritime and air navigation security,” set for October.
Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.
That came after British Royal Marines helped impound a tanker carrying Iranian oil off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on July 4.
Britain suspected it was destined for Syria in defiance of European Union sanctions, which Iran denies.
The US and its Gulf allies have also accused the Islamic republic of carrying out several mysterious attacks on ships in the region, which Tehran denies.