If a person is a citizen of the country that prohibits or limits his right to marry, what are the legal ways for this person to protect his/her rights to marry?

An example is Israel that prohibits marriage of a non-jew to a jewish person.

Is there an international law to protect his/her rights to marry to a person of his/her choice?

  • 1
    I love your commitment to this issue, this is like the third time I've seen you weigh in on it since yesterday.
    – Oliver
    Jul 29 '20 at 17:03

The whole institution of marriage is subject to arbitrary interpretation/twisting within/by any sovereign jurisdiction. Countries are normally within their rights to recognise marriages subject to any conditions they like, or even completely repudiate the institution of marriage altogether.

Is there an international law to protect his/her rights to marry to a person of his/her choice?


what are the legal ways for this person to protect his/her rights to marry?

A few options:

  • Elect a politician/party that will change the law; or
  • If you do not care whether the government recognises your marriage if done the way you want, just marry where/how you want and live with it; or
  • If you need the government to recognise your marriage (e.g. for relationship property protection etc.), move to a country where your "rights to marry" will be protected the way you want.
  • 1
    Well, there's Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family." I think on another recent question there was some discussion as to whether the UDHR ought to be considered "international law". Jul 29 '20 at 15:24
  • In Germany, a marriage must be legal according to German law (which implies there are exactly two spouses), and according to the laws of both spouses. That was a problem 30 years ago for women coming from Israel who couldn't get divorced from an Israeli husband who wouldn't agree, and then they couldn't get married in Germany. No idea if this has changed. And it means a non-Jewish and a Jewish person can't get married in Germany if one of them is an Israeli citizen. They can of course try to get rid of that citizenship.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 29 '20 at 18:00
  • @NateEldredge I mostly mean not that a jurisdiction would infringe the right to live together/found a family, but that it can arbitrary define what to recognise as legal marriage for whatever specific purposes e.g. protections for relationship property. Although the right to live as a family is easily infringed too e.g. same-sex relationships in some Arab countries.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 29 '20 at 22:04
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    @NateEldredge This is true, but in most countries that UDHR is merely aspirational and is not enforceable as law unless also legislatively enacted as domestic law.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 29 '20 at 23:35
  • The OP’s description of Israeli practice is somewhat distorted: Israel recognizes marriages performed inside Israel by certain religious authorities, none of whom will marry a Jew to a non-Jew (and the definition of non-Jew here includes, for example, non-Orthodox converts to Judaism). However, Israel does recognize marriages contracted abroad, and there is a thriving trade of wedding packages in Cyprus where such marriages can be arranged. Israel even recognized same-sex marriages from the USA. Aug 1 '20 at 4:29

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