30 April 2013, 16:20

Lebanon's first civil marriage registered

Lebanon’s interior minister took the unprecedented step Thursday of registering the civil marriage contract of Nidal Darwish and Kholoud Succariyeh, the first couple to celebrate a civil union in Lebanon.

Darwish and Succariyeh, a mixed Shiite-Sunni couple, would now be able to legally create a family register, rather than see their religious affiliations struck from their own records on account of their civil wedding. To avoid such a dilemma, the couple could have got married in nearby Cyprus, since Lebanese authorities recognized civil marriages registered abroad. Instead, they opted to challenge existing jurisprudence.

Sukkarieh and Darwish’s campaign to register their marriage began more than a year ago. It started in secret but in recent months their story triggered a massive debate over whether civil unions should be allowed in Lebanon.

Despite some clerics and politicians rejecting Darwish and Sukkarieh's union, public figures including President Michel Sleiman have been overwhelmingly supportive of the step.

Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East. Only religious marriages could be contracted until then there, and civil status is administered by religious authorities.

Voice of Russia, Gulf News

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