Date: Mar 19, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Hundreds protest citizenship law
Jacob Boswall| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hundreds of protesters marched through central Beirut Sunday demanding that Lebanese women be granted the right to pass on citizenship to their children.

The protesters, including many children, gathered outside the Interior Ministry in Sanayeh before marching to Riad al-Solh Square, many waving Lebanese flags and chanting, “My nationality is the right of my children,” and “We will not be silenced on mothers’ rights.”

The march was organized by the “My Nationality, My Dignity” campaign to mark Women’s History Month and Mother’s Day, which falls on March 21.

Campaign coordinator Mustafa Shaar told The Daily Star that Sunday’s protest was only the beginning, as the campaign planned to “give politicians three months” before taking further action. “We have been struggling for 10 years. Over the next three months we will suggest solutions to Parliament,” Shaar said.

He added that if nothing happened in the next three months, the campaign would take further action, which he said might include “hunger strikes and other acts of protest.”

Protesters demanded speedy parliamentary action to reform Lebanon’s existing nationality law, which dates from 1925.

The law grants Lebanese men married to foreign women the right to pass on their nationality to their children and wives, while denying the right to Lebanese women married to foreigners.

“The issue of women giving their Lebanese nationality to their children deserves to be one of Parliament’s priorities and must be adopted into law far away from politics and narrow political considerations,” MP Adnan Traboulsi told local news channels.

Lawmaker Rola Tabsh asked politicians to address the issue “without exception or racism,” alluding to suggested amendments to the existing law that would outlaw the practice only if women married men of certain nationalities.

In the spring before the May 2018 parliamentary elections, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil announced plans for legislation that would allow Lebanese women to pass on nationality, except for those married to citizens of “neighboring countries.”

His proposal excluded women married to Syrians and Palestinians.

Activists denounced the bill as discriminatory and Bassil never introduced it to Parliament.

The Progressive Socialist Party parliamentary bloc proposed an amendment to the law in August, and the Future Movement has announced plans to introduce its own proposal to reform the law.

Future Movement politician Dima Jamali said in an interview with Mustaqbal Web Saturday that if she were re-elected to a Tripoli seat in an upcoming by-election, her priority in Parliament would be to push the legislation forward.

MP Paula Yacoubian introduced a proposal of her own last year that took a different approach to the issue of nationality. Her bill would remove Lebanon’s reservations to its endorsement of the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Lebanon signed the convention, but with reservations to the sections that require equal rights for men and women with regard to nationality and family life.

Yacoubian said removing the reservations should automatically lead to women being able pass on nationality to their children.