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:
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.