Iran‘s legislative vetting body has ratified a bill that allows children born to Iranian women and foreign men to obtain Iranian nationality, according to state media.
The approval was announced by Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodai on Wednesday, more than four months after the proposal was passed by the Iranian parliament, according to the Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Made up of 12 members, half of whom are appointed by the supreme leader, the Guardian Council has the mandate of approving draft laws that are compatible with religious legislation and the constitution.
The Guardian Council in June had rejected the proposed legislation on security grounds, according to Iranian media, requiring changes that would allow background checks on foreign fathers.
Activists welcomed the move as long overdue.
“Finally the Guardian Council approved the long awaited nationality draft law,” Tara Sepehri Far, researcher at Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
“Soon Iranian women married to foreign men can pass their nationality to their children if intelligence organisations (including MOI and IRGC) determine that they don’t pose a ‘security problem’,” she added, referring to the Ministry of Intelligence and the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.
According to the New York-based rights group, it is not clear how many children in Iran are sons of a foreign father, but the issue has gained prominence in recent years due to a large number of marriages between Iranian women and Afghan men whose children were unable to obtain the citizenship on an equal basis.
“Iran’s Parliament finally addressed a discriminatory law that prevented women from rightfully passing their nationality to their children,” Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in May when the bill was first introduced.
“This law could improve the lives of thousands of children, including those with Iranian mothers married to undocumented migrants,” he added.
According to the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, the Middle East is one of the areas with the highest concentration of gender discriminatory citizenship laws.