Lebanon’s First Ever Civil Marriage

Civil Marriage lebanon - 2

Amid ongoing discussion about the Orthodox Law, Christian rights and naseauting political ads, there’s a piece of news which makes you hopeful about this country we live in.

No, they didn’t go to Cyprus. They didn’t travel to the end of the world to have their marriage signed. Yes, they are religious – she is veiled. But a Lebanese couple who wanted to get married decided that they wanted their union to be an embodiment of civil, not religious, rights. And so they became the first couple to – legally – have a civil marriage in Lebanon. For the full story, click here.

What Khouloud and Nidal did was to remove their sect from their personal records according to Decree No. 60 L.R. from the Lebanese constitution, which meant there was no religious court for them to get married in. The couple signed their civil marriage document on November 10th.

Their marriage is now subject to consultations at Lebanon’s ministry of interior affairs. Because this is so big.

According to the article I linked to earlier, the decree the couple used is simply not making an administrative disclosure of your corresponding sect, which makes you liable in front of civil, not religious, court.

After removing their sect from legal documents as per decree 60 L.R., the couple went through the following process:

  • Get a paper from the “Mokhtar” allowing the marriage.
  • Publish the marriage decision 15 days in advance either in the Official Gazette or in two newspapers or on your parents’ door.
  • Get legal documents from notary public that contain all the items in the marriage contract.

This sounds like a whole lot of paperwork. And it is. But at least now we know that a civil marriage in Lebanon is possible.

The news of this marriage comes at a time when many of the country’s politicians are discussing the possibility of adding a 19th officially recognized sect to the country – the sect of those who don’t have a sect or don’t want their sect to dictate every aspect of their legal life (atheists, people like this couple who don’t wish to be identified by their sect, etc…).

Here’s hoping the ministry of interior affairs doesn’t throw hurdles in front of this couple’s union because their marriage is apparently perfectly legal. And here’s hoping our religious folk don’t start advocating to close this loophole in our constitution.

This marriage, though, needs to be put in Lebanese perspective because it’s not really a fairytale. (Click here).


19 thoughts on “Lebanon’s First Ever Civil Marriage

  1. Pingback: Will Lebanon get Civil-ized? « Lebanese Voices's Blog

  2. I don’t wanna sound like the Grinch, but this is not necessarily a good thing. (For reference, my wife and I had a civil marriage in Cyprus).

    This might not be a good thing because in order to do it, you need to remove your “sect” from your ID and government records. This, as a lot of my friends have experienced, will lead to a lot of rights being taken away from you and your children (government jobs, etc).
    My only fear is that the government will now come and say “Here, no need to change any laws, you can have a civil marriage now, as long as you remove your sect”, knowing that this will cause a lot of problems for the couple and their children.


    • I actually agree in a way because this is exactly what a friend and I discussed today. The idea of striking your sect off all your legal documents to get married is troubling. But maybe, just maybe, if enough people do it then the government is forced to reconsider their stance on these types of marriages.

      Will this cause problems for the couple’s children? I think they can always register them under their sect since their marriage is valid (so it’s not like the children were born out of wedlock.) But in a way, this is quite uncharted territory – the government might not even accept their marriage and we’d be back to square zero.

      However, I am with you – we need to have this type of marriage while keeping your sect. Not because sects should be present everywhere but because this is how the system is.


      • Yep. They don’t have civil marriage and I doubt they will have it any time soon. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is basically a Zionist version of Velayat-e faqih. For example, a “Kohen” priest may still not marry a converted woman. And bastard children may not marry.
        The clerics of the other 11 groups probably don’t mind the system because civil marriage would mean losing an element of control. But some secular Israelis will see advantage in the law, since it prevents Arabs from marrying Jews and vice versa. Now we don’t want that to happen do we?

        BUT they do recognize civil marriages (even gay marriages) from abroad, so like you guys they go to Cyprus. One day you may end up drunk in Cyprus, meet a Palestinian girl and find out she’s got an Israeli passport.

        My opinion is that the churches should have no legal importance in marriage. My parents married in church for the nice ceremony, and in the community council for the actual legal paperwork. And that’s how it should be.


        • It’s exactly the same here. Substitute Jews for Christians and Muslims and you have the exact same situation. People who opt for a civil marriage here are usually from different religions and their marriage is recognized. Not gay marriage though.


  3. Pingback: Putting Lebanon’s First Civil Marriage in Perspective « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

  4. Pingback: Lebanon’s First Civil Marriage Approved « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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