WED 19 - 6 - 2019
Date: Jun 8, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Bassil calls for nationality law reform at diaspora conference
BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Friday stressed his support for giving Lebanese women married to foreign men the right to pass their nationality to their children, during the sixth annual Lebanese Diaspora Energy conference.

After outlining the four current pathways to Lebanese citizenship, Bassil said, “We hope that it will become five with the passing of a law that respects the Constitution ... granting ... women married to foreigners” the power to pass their nationality to their kids.

However, Bassil did not specify which of the proposed amendments to the law, which currently gives men but not women the right to pass their citizenship to their children, he supported. Previous attempts at changing the law have taken a range of approaches, some calling for full equality, with others making exceptions.

For example, while the the foreign minister has in the past called for an expansion of women’s ability to pass on their citizenship, he has been an outspoken critic of allowing Lebanese women married to Palestinians and Syrian nationals the right to pass citizenship on to their children.

Last year, he proposed excluding women married to men from “neighboring countries” from amendments to Lebanon’s nationality law.

The most recent proposal to redress gender inequality in the law was submitted last month by the National Commission for Lebanese Women and prepared at the request of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The proposal does not exclude specific nationalities, but it proposes a two-tiered system based on the child's age. Children who are younger than 18 years old when the law is implemented would receive citizenship. Those 18 or older would receive a “green card” giving them “all the civil, economic and social rights of Lebanese citizens, with the exception of political rights, the right to hold public office and the right to own property.” Green card holders would be able to apply for Lebanese nationality after five years.

Cabinet is currently waiting to receive the proposal

At the conference Friday, Bassil reminded the diaspora members gathered that one of the four current methods of gaining Lebanese nationality is nationality recovery. People of Lebanese origins can “claim” their Lebanese nationality through the Lebanese Nationality Program, which allows “people of Lebanese heritage around the world to apply for Lebanese Nationality and to benefit from their business, financial, consular, personal, social and political rights as Lebanese,” according to the initiative’s website.

He referenced the need for Lebanese diaspora members to embrace their homeland and become “soldiers of nationality.”

President Michel Aoun echoed Bassil’s comments, and noted that in last year’s parliamentary elections “emigrants participated in the entire world and from the country where they live.”

While Aoun admitted that Lebanon is “struggling today to rise from chronic accumulated crises, especially in the economic sphere,” he added that he believes the country is on “the path of recovery.”

“Any effort on your part will undoubtedly help it to move forward on this path,” he added.

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