SUN 16 - 6 - 2019
Date: Mar 22, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Lebanon: Activists reject Bassil proposal for passing on nationality
BEIRUT: The leading group campaigning for Lebanese women to be allowed to pass citizenship to their children vehemently rejected a bill announced by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Wednesday.

The new draft bill, which amends a 1925-era law, proposes that Lebanese women may begin passing on their citizenship, but will not apply to women who marry men from “neighboring” countries.

Bassil said the exception is a provision to restrict “naturalization” in general, and particularly of some 1 million Syrian refugees and over 174,000 Palestinian refugees residing in Lebanon.

The foreign minister added that the Lebanese public should be wary of “collective naturalization” of these groups in lieu of their returning to their home countries.

The “my citizenship is my dignity” campaign “strongly” rejected the initiative, saying it “contravened the Lebanese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international treaties.”

The campaign argued that the goal of the new proposal was to discriminate between Lebanese mothers and their children based on the nationality of their husbands.

Under the proposed law, Lebanese men would no longer be able to pass on their Lebanese citizenship to spouses from neighboring countries and their children.

“What is not allowed for women should not be allowed for men,” Bassil said.

He said the move was in line with the Lebanese Constitution, which prevents discrimination on the basis of gender, in addition to “international agreements,” such as the 1979 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The “my citizenship is my dignity” campaign deplored this provision, saying, “In this case, the children will remain without a nationality.”

Shortly after the campaign’s statement was released, Bassil tweeted that the decree would be issued in coordination with the interior minister to study the issue of nationalization in “deserved” cases from citizens of neighboring countries.

“This is a complementary measure to the bill that I sent today to Cabinet,” Bassil tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Bassil said of his proposal that “there are strange, unacceptable and illogical [provisions] in our Lebanese law that lead us to try to address them.”

It follows years of protests against the law, which have increased in recent weeks as the country’s first parliamentary elections in nine years approach. Activists are calling for voters to boycott candidates that don’t support the demands.

Bassil said he expected “a lot of talk” on the law, acknowledging the timing of his proposal ahead of the elections.

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