A message to the world - Belgium becomes the 2nd country to open marriage to same-sex couples.






Equality - Marriage Equality in our world - Belgium


On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country to open marriage to same-sex couples (marriages are expected to begin June 16, 2021 in the city of Ghent). It is not a separate regime or process. Gays and lesbian couples share in the same marriage legislation as opposite-sex couples. However, important related legislation, regarding adoption in Belgium, was not harmonized with the new marriage law.

"In spite of the very symbolic value of this law and the positive signal it sends to the gay community ... it remains blatantly hypocritical in one respect: a single person can adopt a child, but not a homosexual couple," said Belgium's Socialist deputy Karine Lalieux.

In Canada, adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples is no longer an issue. Courts have confirmed that our families can equally offer homes to children in need.

We asked legal expert Kees Waaldijk, one of the key individuals behind the introduction of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands to comment:

"The Belgian law shows that the Dutch were not acting peculiarly insular, when they opened up marriage to same-sex couples in 2001. There is a continuous trend in the law of many countries to recognise same-sex love as equal to different-sex love. And there is no reason why some of the core institutions of family law should be excluded from this utterly just trend. After Belgium, one would expect Sweden, South-Africa, or Canada to be the next jurisdiction to legislate for full equality in family law."

How The Netherlands, Belgium and Canada compare:

"As in the Netherlands, the Belgian law does not provide for presumed paternity for the female spouse of a married woman who gives birth during their marriage.

In the Netherlands the two women in such a situation would automatically get joint parental responsibility over the child, and the non-biological mother could then ask in court to be allowed to adopt her spouse's child.

In Belgium, on the other hand, there is no provision for joint parental responsibility, nor for adoption by a same-sex partner or a same-sex couple."
Kees Waaldijk's Web Site

Canada does not have any restrictions: the country offers full and equal marriage with all the rights and obligations shared with opposite-gender couples.

Douglas Elliott, president of the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association (and a partner in the firm that is fighting for our right to marriage), agrees. He believes the work of Belgium prime minister Guy Verhofstadt was instrumental in pushing the issue over the opposition from the country's Catholics and extreme right:

"Belgium's action is a tremendous step forward. It is the second country in the world to have its government legally recognize same sex marriage. It is in a country with a majority of Catholics, too, that has historically been far more conservative than the Netherlands. Rather than Holland being the odd man out, a trend is being created. As a former resident of that other delightful bilingual kingdom, I can only say, 'Vive Verhofstadt et vive la Belgique!' "

Beginning Feb 6, 2004, , the Belgian state will recognise marriages between non-Belgian gay couples provided at least on partner lives in or visits the country regularly.

The Belgian Bill (PDF document)

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