Same-sex marriage in Belgium
On June 1, 2003, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

, with some restrictions. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions. Legislation enacted in October 2004 however, permits any couple to marry in Belgium if at least one of the spouses has lived in the country for a minimum of three months.

Civil union

The act of 23 November 1998 granted statutory cohabitation
Domestic partnership
A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by marriage nor a civil union...

in Belgium. The act gives limited rights to registered
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

 same-sex and opposite-sex couples by inserting a Title V-bis on statutory cohabitation in the Belgian Civil Code and by amending certain provisions of the Belgian Civil Code and the Belgian Judicial Code. However, persons who are not a couple can also make a declaration of statutory cohabitiation; this includes relatives.

The law was legally published on January 12, 1999. It went in force on January 1, 2000, according to a royal order signed on December 14, and published on December 23, 1999.

Legislative history

On May 28, 2002, a bill legalising same-sex marriage was introduced in the Senate
Belgian Senate
The Belgian Senate is one of the two chambers of the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the Chamber of Representatives. It is considered to be the "upper house" of the Federal Parliament.-History and future:...

 by Jeannine Leduc (VLD
Flemish Liberals and Democrats
' , commonly known as Open VLD and also simply as the VLD, is a Flemish liberal political party in Belgium, created in 1992 from the former Party for Freedom and Progress and a few other politicians from other parties. The party led the government for three cabinets under Guy Verhofstadt from 1999...

), Philippe Mahoux (PS
Socialist Party (francophone Belgium)
The Socialist Party is a Francophone social-democratic political party in Belgium. As of the 2010 elections, it is the second largest party in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and the largest Francophone party...

), Philippe Monfils (MR
Reformist Movement
The Reformist Movement is a French-speaking liberal political party in Belgium. The party was in coalition as part of the Leterme II Government, and was also part of the governing coalition in the Walloon Region and Brussels-Capital Region until the 2004 regional elections...

), Myriam Vanlerberghe (SP.A-Spirit
The SP.a-SPIRIT was a Belgian electoral coalition between the Flemish parties Socialist Party Different and Spirit....

), Marie Nagy (Ecolo
Ecolo is a French-speaking Belgian green political party in Wallonia, Brussels and the German-speaking Community of Belgium...

) and Frans Lozie (Agalev). It passed on November 28, 2002, with 46 votes to 15. On January 30, 2003, the bill passed the Chamber of Representatives by 91 votes to 22.

Monarchy of Belgium
Monarchy in Belgium is constitutional and popular in nature. The hereditary monarch, at present Albert II, is the head of state and is officially called King of the Belgians .-Origins:...

 Albert II
Albert II of Belgium
Albert II is the current reigning King of the Belgians, a constitutional monarch. He is a member of the royal house "of Belgium"; formerly this house was named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

 signed and promulgated
Promulgation is the act of formally proclaiming or declaring a new statutory or administrative law after its enactment. In some jurisdictions this additional step is necessary before the law can take effect....

 the bill on February 13, 2003 and on February 28 it was published in the Belgian Official Journal
Belgian Official Journal
The Belgian Official Journal is the official journal of the Kingdom of Belgium....

 and came into force
Coming into force
Coming into force or entry into force refers to the process by which legislation, regulations, treaties and other legal instruments come to have legal force and effect...

 on June 1.

The first paragraph of article 143 of the Belgian Civil Code (Book I, Title V, Chapter I) now reads as follows:
  • in Dutch
    Dutch language
    Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

    : Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van hetzelfde geslacht.

  • in French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

    : Deux personnes de sexe différent ou de même sexe peuvent contracter mariage.

The same-sex marriage law did not permit adoption by same-sex partners, and as birth within a same-sex marriage did not imply affiliation, the same-sex spouse of the biological parent had no way to become the legal parent. On December 1, 2005, a proposal to permit adoption was approved by the Chamber of
Representatives of the parliament
Belgian Federal Parliament
The Belgian Federal Parliament is a bicameral parliament. It consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate . It sits in the Palace of the Nation .- Chamber of Representatives :...

. It was passed in April 2006, thereby enabling legal co-parenting by same-sex couples.


According to the Belgian Official Journal
Belgian Official Journal
The Belgian Official Journal is the official journal of the Kingdom of Belgium....

, approximately 300 same-sex couples were married between June 2003 and April 2004 (245 in 2003 and 55 in 2004). This constituted 1.2 percent of the total number of marriages in Belgium during that period. Two thirds of the couples were male and one third female. On 22 July 2005, the Belgian government announced that a total of 2,442 same-sex marriages had taken place in the country since the extension of marriage rights two years earlier.

See also

  • 2003 in LGBT rights
  • LGBT rights in Belgium
  • Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe
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