Lebanon

Lebanon Allows First Civil Marriage

Religious marriages no longer the only option

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BEIRUT — Lebanon's interior minister took the unprecedented step Thursday of registering a civil marriage contract after a years-long campaign to allow such unions in the multi-confessional country, the official news agency reported.

"Marwan Charbel has signed the civil marriage contract of Nidal Darwish and Kholoud Sukkarieh, the first Lebanese couple to celebrate a civil union" on home soil, the National News Agency said.

Lebanon has a population of some four million people with Muslims—Sunnis and Shiites—making up the majority but with a Christian minority of around 35 percent and a sprinkling of other religions.

Sukkarieh and Darwish's campaign to register their marriage began more than a year ago. It started in secret to sidestep political obstacles, but in recent months their story triggered a massive debate over whether civil unions should be allowed in Lebanon.