Putting Lebanon’s First Civil Marriage in Perspective

We sure are all thrilled that a Lebanese couple defied all odds in having Lebanon’s first ever civil marriage happen on our soil (click here). They are courageous and should be commended, as we’ve all done and they have shown that, if you absolutely want to, getting a civil marriage in Lebanon is entirely possible although extremely tedious.

Some people categorized is as a triumph for a secular state to be, some were thrilled that they don’t have to go to Cyprus now to get married. Others were over the moon that this is this couple’s way of sticking it to religious figures who want to keep us down. You know how the drill goes.

But things are not that peachy. Quite simply put, if you think about it Lebanon’s first civil marriage is a triumph for our secular system first and foremost.

As I was discussing with a friend the possibility of maybe removing our sects like this couple did, I had this nagging idea in my head all the time: how much would that limit my prospects in this country?

And the answer is: a lot.

How is a couple being forced to remove their sect from all governmental papers in order to get married a triumph over the sectarian system? If anything, it’s a grave injustice for them. Not because our sectarian system is healthy but because by opting out of it through removing their sect from all their legal documents as per Article 60 LR., this couple has not only limited things for themselves but for their children and their children’s children as well.

It’s not even about governmental jobs which are allocated according to sectarian quotas. It’s about universities which admit students in a Lebanese-affirmative action sort of way whereby half of its admissions are Christians and the other half is Muslim. It’s about jobs that would hire you outside of qualifications if you’re from a certain sect. It’s about this mentality among a lot of people – arguably the majority – to help out others just because they are “men wleid l tayfe.” (from our sect).

It’s not the way things should be, sure. But it’s the way things are. Should the consequences of a civil marriage be limited opportunities for everyone involved? I hardly think so.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the current state of affairs in Lebanon is entirely run on that category in your documents labeled “sect.” Once that box is empty, where do you fit in the bureaucratical aspect of things? Nowhere. How will they register their children when the time comes? How difficult will it be for them to get things done in this country starting from getting that meaningless “ikhraj l eid?”

On top of all that, here’s a sample of some of the comments on NowLebanon’s article about the issue:

Civil Marriage Lebanon

 

Enough said, I guess.

Quite simply put: a “proper” Lebanese civil marriage should be one that takes place while all your governmental papers still have your sect written there in that box.

Either way, if you want to get a civil marriage Lebanon is not the way for you. Nicosia should still be your main destination because at least you know that if you get married there you won’t have a whole lot of repercussions to go through and you know that your children won’t have to go through hell and back in order to get a job.

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16 thoughts on “Putting Lebanon’s First Civil Marriage in Perspective

  1. These comments are giving me brain cancer -_- Bsser3a 5tar3oula 2essa w 3emlouwa zenyeh w mch mou2mineh.
    I was wondering though. Can’t they put their sects back after they got married?

    Reply
    • No because under their sects, they wouldn’t be married. It’s similar to when a Maronite wants to get a divorce and he changes his sect to “Assyrian.”
      Under the Maronite sect, he’s still married. Under the “Assyrian” sect, he’s not.

      Same thing applies here: under their sect, this couple is not married. Under their no-sect status, they are.

      Reply
  2. About your comments on their kids: I think if we all little by little start removing our sect from papers and from our minds, we might actually start reaching the point where universities and jobs aren’t taking that criteria into consideration anymore.
    When you’re removing your sect from your paperwork, you’re refusing the fact that it’s an Identity factor in the eyes of your society and law. It’s honestly something that I would proudly do.

    Reply
    • You’re not supposed to remove your sect off your paperwork in order to change the system. It’s not how it works. We should aim for a system change that doesn’t require us to remove our sects in order to have civil rights.

      If you want to, then be my guest. But if you look at the comments I showed you, very few are those willing to do so and it would end up leading nowhere.

      It shouldn’t be an identity factor and we all refuse it – but why would I make my life in Lebanon a living hell just by doing it? Is it worth it? I honestly don’t think so.

      Reply
      • I am not defined by my sect. My legal rights as a citizen are not related to my religion or my sect. I’m not saying doing so will change the system, I’m saying not defining ourselves as citizens BY our sect will do.
        I agree we still have a long way there, but I still have some hope that my life in this country won’t be a living hell if I ever do so. Don’t be too defeated, there will always be hope in this country while they’re are a few who share these ideals. In the words of the French: Courage 🙂

        Reply
        • I am not defined by my sect. But the system defines me accordingly. I mean, just look at the current political discussions about electoral laws taking place in the country and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
          I don’t think making things much harder for me will end up changing the system because the system doesn’t really care. It’s not about being defeated, it’s about being realistic. My blog posts, this debate we’re having here, even the NowLebanon article – all of these are somehow reaching an audience which is mostly the “liberal” aspect of Lebanese society. The majority, I believe, wouldn’t agree with us and would find this whole discussion ridiculous (or blasphemous if you look at the NowLebanon comments).

          Civil Marriage will happen in Lebanon if the civil rights legalization (anoun l a7wel l shakhsiye) thing passes in parliament – this whole discussion would be futile.

          Things would be much easier if a 19th sect is also made, as I mentioned in my previous post about the issue. And talks are actually underway regarding that.

          Reply
    • Thank you Michelle!

      Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I have to disagree with the main thesis of the above article. We should bear in mind that this is the first couple of what will hopefully be more couples to come, and once they are greater in number, things will be a lot different for themselves and their issue.

      Reply
      • You mean it’s much, much easier that we keep our sects on our governmental papers, that’s what you mean. And this is what they want us to do, and say. And we’re not going anywhere if we’re going to keep on waiting for a comprehensive solution yi2chut 3layna mnil sama. Comprehensive secularisation will never take place in Lebanon; instead it will be composed of many individual – and courageous – efforts like those. And we have to understand this before we start going anywhere. Énoun l’axwél l’chakhçiyye mich rax yimru2.

        And I think that you exaggerate when you talk about one’s life becoming “a living hell” once you lose your sect. It just means that you will be confined to working in the private sector and not in the public sector, and this is not a problem, really, in a country where the state is a minor employer.

        I think that it is people who take themselves for “realists” who make the most damage to our country, when this “realism” is merely a euphemism for giving in to the status quo.

        Defying this system will not be easy, and we should have no illusions about this, but we should have courage.

        Reply
  3. Pingback: Lebanon’s First Ever Civil Marriage « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

  4. What worries me more is whether our esteemed Interior Minister, Marwan Charbel, will actually give the signature needed to make this marriage fully legal and binding.

    Reply
  5. If you want to change the system you do exactly what these guys did, you start somewhere, even if it means you’re going to have a hard time.. The more people follow, the faster things will change. These guys are alone today but think of how things will change once they become hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands..

    Reply
  6. Pingback: The Death of Lebanese Civil Marriage « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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