Currently, Lebanese citizenship can only be acquired by birth or marriage. In the first case (birth), it follows the right of blood (jus sanguinis) according to the principle of nationality law by which citizenship is determined by having a Lebanese father. In the second case (marriage), it is granted to the wive(s) of Lebanese citizens and their children.
As one observes, women are denied their right to nationality: if a Lebanese woman marries a foreign national she is not entitled to pass her nationality to her husband and children, whereas Lebanese men are allowed by law to pass their nationality to their spouse(s) and their children.
This situation has triggered a feminist campaign nationwide in favor of gender equality on the citizenship issue.
Although I theoretically support this initiative, I would like to argue here that Lebanese citizenship should be addressed as a whole and from a comprehensive legal angle, not only from a feminist perspective.
Therefore, the first step is to consider the other eligibility requirements that the current citizenship law rules out, namely:
- The right of soil (jus solis), by which nationality or citizenship can be recognized to any individual born in the territory of the relevant state.
- Naturalization, which requires that the applicant hold a legal status as a full-time resident for a minimum period of time (during which he should exercise a remunerated professional activity) and promise to obey and uphold the country’s laws. (Note that the massive naturalizations that took place in the 1990s were the result of discretionary measures taken in the form of a decree.)
Based on the above, here are some questions that should be resolved:
- Should Lebanese citizenship be acquired by naturalization? If not, why? Demographics? Why would demographics vindicate such a restriction in this case and not in other ones?
- May those who attest their Lebanese origin be granted Lebanese citizenship? If yes, why is it so difficult for the members of the Lebanese diaspora to obtain it? If not, why? Demographics? Again, why would demographics vindicate such a restriction in this case and not in other ones?
- If Lebanese women are entitled to give their nationality to their children, will they benefit from a preferential treatment compared to the Lebanese diaspora? If yes, why? Demographics? Why would demographics vindicate such a restriction in this case and not in other ones?
- Finally, when are we going to address the excruciating issue of mass naturalizations that occurred in the 1990s like a full-fledged national one?