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(Image courtesy of The Daily Star/Ahmad Azakir)
Just yesterday the National Association for Human Rights organized a protest at Beirut’s Corniche (Ain Al-Mreisse side) – where hundreds of citizens assembled to protest a Lebanese law which prevents Lebanese women from being able to pass their nationality to family members.
The protest was deliberately organized to take place the same week that Arab countries celebrate Mother’s Day, to emphasize a national frustration regarding women’s rights in Lebanon. Crowds assembled holding signs inscribed with dissenting statements against a law that originates in 1925 which states that Lebanese women married to foreigners are prohibited from passing their nationality to their children or husbands. Individuals were also spotted with signs that proclaimed, “My nationality is my dignity” – the motto of the like-named campaign against the government’s blatant avoidance of amending discriminatory citizenship laws.
The negative implications of this outdated law are plenty – but one of the most significant consequences is that children of Lebanese women who are born and raised in Lebanon are deprived of having the rights of Lebanese citizens, such as the right to work and the right to national health coverage. This leads to an issue of collective statelessness for individuals who are born to Lebanese mothers and fathers from countries in crisis who may not have viable passports to provide to their children – leading to scores of individuals being denied a secure nationality despite the fact that they were born and raised in Lebanon. In these cases, both husbands and children are forced to attain residency permits to live in Lebanon, which are often times a hassle to acquire and which must be perpetually renewed, which serves as an emotional and monetary burden in and of itself.
The last instance that this law was contested was in 2013, when campaigners proposed a new law that would allow women the right to pass their nationality, but the draft law was unfortunately immediately rejected by the Lebanese Parliament.