1- Retirement Benefits Bill
We’re all going to get old. A civilization is only as good as its treatment to its elders. Of course, this doesn’t mean we let our lives get governed by old men in black robes, but it means we make sure our senior citizens have everything they need once they retire, from healthcare benefits and pensions and onwards.
2- Civil Status Laws Bill
The root of many of Lebanon’s problems can be traced back to Lebanon’s dependence on each sect’s personal status laws. This means everything linked to marriage, birth, death, inheritance, etc. is controlled by opaque religious courts with rarely any due process or rational thinking. We need a civil status law to equalize the Lebanese in the eyes of the law, regardless of their faith (or lack-thereof).
3- Mental Health Bill
In Lebanon, mental health is still a taboo subject. But, with above-average rates for diseases such as paranoid schizophrenia and autism, as well as a staggering self-medication numbers (1 million+ tranquilizer subscriptions in 2011), it’s obviously an issue. Mentally ill individuals rarely ever get the treatment they deserve, and proper rights and benefits to help them integrate into society and have a better quality of life.
4- Women Citizenship Bill
Lebanese mothers and spouses cannot pass on the Lebanese citizenship to her kids and family. This is a grotesque injustice and a major hurdle in the long march towards gender equality in Lebanon.
5- Anti-Corruption Bill
Corruption is more rampant in the Lebanese government and virtually every single one of its institutions than only a handful of countries around the world. Where corruption is a way-of-life, and bribes and favors are a given, such a law is more of an absolute necessity for any hopes or chances for progress.
6- Anti-Censorship and Freedom of Theater and Cinema Bill
As a board member in anti-censorship and freedom of speech NGO March, this bill is particularly dear to my heart. The humiliating and absurd censorship decisions must stop. The media must be free, citizens must be able to exercise their sacred right to free speech regardless of who it turns off.
7- Penal Code Revision
Our penal code is very ancient. It’s a mixture of last-days-of-the-Ottoman-Empire and French-colonialism-era laws that are inherently susceptible to malicious interpretation, putting women, homosexuals and other groups in society through an unnecessary and unfair punishment. Old, ambiguous laws should be revised, and newer, clearer ones must be drafted.
8- Labor Law Revision
This law is ancient as hell too. We see labor unions always at odds with the government, and a minimum wage that has miserably failed to keep up with inflation. Workers’ rights are often exploited, and due compensation and non-discrimination regulations’ enforcement is lax. We need an updated labor law, one that includes domestic workers from foreign countries.
It’s Time We Focus
It’s time we focus on these specific goals instead of broader “struggles”. Keeping up the pressure from all sides on our illegitimate MPs will hopefully coax them into action (and earning their ill-gotten salaries). Victory after victory in those 8 fields and countless others stuck in Berri’s drawers, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a nicer life in the Lebanon we love.
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