Lebanese citizenship law strips women of identity and property

When her adolescent child a skilled football gamer was chosen for a nationwide Lebanese group, Nadine Moussa could not have been more proud.

However, the celebrations were temporary.

Under a 91-year-old law, women like Moussa, who are wed to foreigners, cannot pass their Lebanese citizenship on to their hubbies or children - nor can they acquire or own property.

" She was selected and then told she was not permitted on the team because she is not Lebanese," Moussa said. "She was ravaged she stopped playing football after that, she felt declined and omitted."

Her 2 children, who have always resided in Lebanon, cannot access public health or education when they are old enough, they cannot work without an authorization, according to the law.

Nor can Moussa pass on the household property or land due to stringent limitations in Lebanon on the amount of property those who are classified as foreigners, such as her daughters, can own.

" I have constantly felt like a second-class resident, being denied of the right to provide my nationality to my children and my household, said Moussa, a lawyer, long-time activist and Lebanon's very first female governmental prospect.

The law impacts more than 77,000 individuals, a 2009 research, Predicament of Lebanese Women Married to Non-Lebanese, discovered.

The concern is even more complicated for Lebanese women wed to Palestinian men, because Palestinians are denied the right to own any property in Lebanon.

It is 14 years since the project to reform nationality laws throughout the Middle East was introduced.

Since then, most Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, have either partly or entirely reformed their citizenship laws, the executive director of the Collective for Research and Training on Development Action, Lina Abou Habib, stated.

" Although Lebanon boasts of being way more liberal than other Arab countries, it has not yet done any reform in this area," Abou Habib told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Federal government authorities were not immediately offered for comment.


The nation's mostly male political leaders provide a basic set of arguments versus allowing women to hand down their nationality to their foreign hubbies and children, she stated.

" They say if you reform the law then all Palestinian males will marry Lebanese women and they will never return to Palestine, thereby taking away the right of Palestinian refugees to return home," Abou Habib stated.

The United Nations estimates there are 450,000 Palestinian refugees signed up in Lebanon.

They have restricted rights, cannot own property and are avoided from operating in 20 chosen careers, according to the United Nations.

Challengers argue that Lebanon maintains a fragile spiritual balance between Christians, Sunnis, Shi'ite and Druze.

They state if women were to get citizenship rights, it would mean Muslims would even more surpass Christians, threatening the presence of Christians in Lebanon.

And with the Syrian crisis now entering its sixth year and Syrian refugees making up one-quarter of Lebanon's population, some likewise say if women deserve to citizenship, Syrian males will marry Lebanese women and never ever go back to Syria.

Abou Habib, and all activists interviewed for this story, reject these arguments as racist and say they are exploiting sectarian fears in order to deny women their rights.

" There is no link in between women's citizenship and the concern of Palestine or the country's religious makeup or the Syrian crisis," she said.

" At the end of the day, what is true is that the state does not identify women as people."


Not all political parties and unions share the very same view on women's citizenship it is split between the Christian parties who oppose it and the Muslim celebrations who support it, Abou Habib said.

Complicating the project is the fact that Lebanon has lacked a president since May 25, 2014, basically paralyzing its parliament and decreasing the chance of political reform.

" The concern does not disappear if there is no president or because we have actually the added issue of the Syrian displacement," Abou Habib said. "The concern is still there; women are still suffering."

Property transfer is not just governed by state laws, but by spiritual laws too. There are 18 identified confessions or faiths in Lebanon and laws avoid the transfer of property in between confessions.

Abou Habib offers her experience as an example.

She is an avowed secularist; her father's Greek Orthodox religion is listed on her identity card. She is wed to a Sunni male, so by means of the patrilineal rules associated with spiritual identity in Lebanon, their daughter is likewise Sunni.

" She cannot even acquire my car because she is a different confession," Abou Habib stated.

" You have the combination of the property law which is already prejudiced and religious household laws which are a catastrophe in their own right."

The law provided under the French Mandate of Lebanon in 1925 states that an individual is considered Lebanese if born to a Lebanese father.

Nada Makki, a project policeman from the Committee for the Follow-Up on Women's Issues who dealt with the 1999 research stated many women were not aware that this law prevented them from passing their citizenship onto their children.

" It is not up until their children cannot access public health care or education, a unique issue for low income households, that they understand what they are being rejected because of this law," Makki stated.

" Of course, there is the inheritance for women who have land and housing they do not deserve to pass this on to their children."

Foreign Minister GebranBassil, who leads Christian party, The Free Patriotic Movement, has actually voiced some of the loudest opposition to the reform of Lebanon's nationality laws.

Last November, he sponsored a costs that would grant citizenship to Lebanese migrants however not to the partners of Lebanese women.


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