Ranked 2nd by ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index, Belgium is an open society for all
According to the most recently published rankings by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Belgium ranks second behind Malta of the 49 European countries surveyed. The ranking examines laws and policies using a set of criteria, including equality and non-discrimination, family, hate crimes and hate speech, legal gender recognition, intersex bodily integrity, civil society space, and asylum.
Belgium’s high rankings reflect its commitment to LGBTI rights and inclusivity. And yet the country (and its governments) is not complacent. It appreciates more work is required to address issues such as transgender rights, comprehensive transgender healthcare, and social acceptance.
An open society since 1795
While progress has been made on LGBT rights throughout the country’s history – remarkably, same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 1795 – most rights have been accorded during the 21st century. Same-sex partnerships and marriage were formally recognised in 2003. Later, same-sex adoption was fully legalised in 2006 under the same terms and conditions as heterosexual adoption, and lesbian couples were able to access IVF as well. Additionally, the country has implemented laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in various areas, including employment, education, and housing.
Belgium is well known for its vibrant LGBTI community and the presence of organisations and advocacy groups promoting equality and fighting discrimination. Pride events, such as the Brussels Pride, are held annually, providing a platform for visibility, celebration, and advocacy.