Dozens of people protested in Downtown Beirut Wednesday against Parliament's failure to draft a bill that would allow women to pass on their nationality to their children.
A crowd of mostly women from the “My nationality is mine and my family’s right” campaign and other activists gathered in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square to demand equality with men.
Karima Shebbo, the coordinator of the campaign, said the protest came in response to the inclusion of the Lebanese expatriate law in Parliament’s agenda for legislative sessions set for Nov. 12 and 13.
That draft law, which is demanded by Christian parties, would allow people of Lebanese ancestry on their father's side who live outside the country to receive Lebanese citizenship.
Shebbo expressed regret that politicians would agree to discuss that law but not a law that “affects the lives of all Lebanese women.”
“We call on Parliament to place our demands on the top of its agenda, and amend the Lebanese nationality law so that women and men have equal rights in this matter,” Shebbo said.
Eqbal Doghan, head of the Working Women’s League, demanded that lawmakers justify extending their own mandates while ignoring calls made by activists for more than 30 years for the equal citizenship law.
Activist Maryam Ghazal also lashed out at policians.
“You’ve used sectarianism as an excuse to neglect children (with non-Lebanese fathers)... Where is justice in this?” she asked.
“Who has more of a right to nationality, a child who was born and raised in Lebanon, or a child who was born and raised outside of Lebanon and has barely any connection to the country?”
Officials argue that women in Lebanon who are married to non-Lebanese men should not be allowed to pass the Lebanese nationality onto their children because that could change the country's sectarian demographic.
Many Lebanese women are married to Palestinians, who under the Lebanese Constitution are not allowed to obtain Lebanese citizenship.