Lebanon: Give women equal citizenship rights to men under the nationality law

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Date: 
29 Nov 2011
Update Date: 
11 Feb 2013
Update: 

UPDATE 11 FEBRUARY 2013: The Ministerial Committee established to study Lebanon’s nationality law has failed to meet the aspirations of Lebanese women married to non-nationals. In a disappointing decision, the Ministerial Committee concluded on 14 December 2012 that Lebanese women should not be granted the right to pass their nationality to their children and spouses, a decision made public on 16 January 2013. Instead, it recommended to the Prime Minister that restrictions on children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals relating to resident permits, education, work in the private sector and access to state medical care should be eased. If implemented, these recommendations are welcome in that they should alleviate the hardships experienced by the children of Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese men. However, campaigners still want removed, once and for all, the discrimination that treats Lebanese women and men differently under the nationality law.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW! Please continue, in support of Lebanese women campaigning for their rights, to urge the President and the Prime Minister to revise the nationality law urgently and comprehensively to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male and female, have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children.


 

Hiam Abd El Samad
 Hiam Abd El Samad

In July 2010, Equality Now issued Women’s Action 36.1 calling on the government of Lebanon to recognize the adverse effects that the discriminatory Lebanese nationality law has on the families of Lebanese women married to foreign men, and to revise the Lebanese nationality law to ensure that all Lebanese citizens have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children. Our action highlighted the case of Hiam Abd El Samad, her Egyptian husband Anwar Hasaneen, and their three daughters Nour, 17, ‘Amar, 12, and ‘Ayia, 9 years old who have had to suffer significant hardships and deprivation as a result of the nationality law.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Equality Now commends new regulations issued on 23 September 2011 by the Minister of Labor, Mr. Charbel Nahhas, introducing amendments to the labor law aimed at eliminating various forms of discrimination against the non-Lebanese spouses of Lebanese women and their children. The regulations, now in force, grant work permits without the need of a sponsor to non-Lebanese spouses of Lebanese women, effectively making it easier for employers to hire non-nationals. Such amendments will enhance the situation of Hiam’s family. Her husband will be able automatically to obtain a work permit without having to find a sponsor, giving him greater possibilities to find a job. He will also more easily avoid possible exploitation as he will no longer be tied to an individual sponsor. Hiam’s daughters will also be able automatically to obtain a work permit.

Under the new regulations, non-Lebanese husbands of Lebanese women and their children can renew their residency permits without having to pay fees, even if they have no job. However, if the children of Lebanese mothers and non-Lebanese fathers subsequently marry non-Lebanese citizens, they are not permitted to stay in the country even if that is the only country they have known.

In addition, Hiam’s family is still not able to access free health care and other social benefits due to their status as non-nationals. The Labor ministry’s positive steps therefore do not go far enough in fulfilling the rights of Lebanese women to confer their nationality to their spouses and children and to enjoy their basic human rights.

The nationality law of Lebanon only allows a man (and not a woman) to confer Lebanese nationality upon his spouse and his children. This law denies women equality with men in terms of nationality and undermines a woman’s status as an equal citizen and contradicts the Lebanese Constitution, which provides that all Lebanese citizens are equal before the law and enjoy the same civil and political rights. It also contradicts many of the international human rights standards ratified by Lebanon including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

To read more about the case of Hiam Abd El Samad, please see Women's Action 36.1.

What You Can Do: 

Please continue to write to the Lebanese authorities listed below welcoming these new labor regulations but asking them to revise the nationality law urgently and comprehensively to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male or female, have the equal right to confer their Lebanese nationality on their spouses and children.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

President Michel Suleiman
President of Lebanon
Baabda - The Presidential Palace
Beirut, Lebanon
Fax: +961 5 900900
Tel: +961 5 900919
Email: president_office@presidency.gov.lb

Mr. Tammam Salam
Prime Minister
Grand Serail
Riad Solh Street
Beirut, Lebanon
Fax: +961 1 865630
Tel: +961 1 746 800
Email: conseilm@pcm.gov.lb

With copies to:

Mrs. Wafa Suleiman
President - National Commission of Lebanese Women
Hazmieh - Main Road - Chahine Commercial Center - 2nd Floor
Beirut, Lebanon
Fax: +961 5 955 103
Tel: +961 5 955 101/2
Email: info@nclw.org.lb

Letters: 

Dear President/ Prime Minister:

I am writing to express my support of Lebanese women campaigning for their rights to pass their nationality on to their children and non-national spouses. I am concerned that the Ministerial Committee established to study Lebanon’s nationality law did not meet the aspirations of Lebanese women married to non-nationals by failing to recommend ways to revise the nationality law in order to guarantee full equality between women and men in this regard.

I understand that the Ministerial Committee concluded on 18 December 2012 that Lebanese women should not be granted the right to pass their nationality to their children and spouses, and instead recommended only that restrictions on children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals should be eased in relation to resident permits, education, work in the private sector and access to state-medical care.

While I welcome these recommendations to alleviate the hardships experienced by children of Lebanese women married to non-nationals, they do not treat Lebanese women as equal citizens under the nationality law as required by the Constitution and Lebanon’s international legal obligations. These women and their families will continue to face difficulties in their daily lives. I therefore urge you to revise the nationality law without delay to ensure that all Lebanese citizens, male and female, have the equal right to confer their nationality on their children and spouses.

Thank you for your attention.