Lovers against all odds: Lebanese government approves first ever civil marriage administered in Lebanon
Lebanon's caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel signed the civil marriage certificate of Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish, the state-run National News Agency reported on Thursday. "By this, Succariyeh and Darwish's union becomes the first civil marriage registered in the records of the Directorate General for Personal Affairs in Lebanon,” the NNA noted.
Charbel, however, pointed out: “Their religions must not be changed and the couple's marriage would follow the laws of personal affairs that their sects stipulate, awaiting issuing a code that governs optional civil marriage in the country.” He explained that this is because there are no texts concerning divorce, inheritance and kids for “people with no religious affiliation.”
Following the spread of the news, President Michel Suleiman congratulated the couple via Twitter over the official registration of their civil marriage. Speaking to LBCI television, Darwish described the registration as "the first victory for the civil state in Lebanon, the state we all dream of".
He echoed calls for a state for all its citizens in Lebanon, rather than a nation fractured along sectarian lines. "I am very happy today, and I never had any fear that my marriage to Nidal would not be legal," Succariyeh told LBCI. "This is Lebanon's first historic step" towards institutionalizing civil marriage, she added.
The Lebanese Supreme Council in the Ministry of Justice took an unanimous decision in February to consider legal all civil marriages conducted in Lebanon by people that do not have any religious affiliation. Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish announced in January they had wed as a secular couple by having their religious sects legally struck from their family registers under an article dating from the 1936 French mandate.
Suleiman has since lobbied for a civil marriage law as a "very important step in eradicating sectarianism and solidifying national unity." Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani rejected it.
Qabbani issued a fatwa against moves to legalize civil marriages inside the country, where couples of different faiths have to travel abroad to tie the knot.