On January 30
became the second country in the world to legally recognise same-sex marriage
, with some restrictions. As in the Netherlands
(the first country to legalise same-sex marriage), this was achieved when the Christian Democrats
were not in power.
Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions. New legislation enacted in October 2004
, however, now permits any couples to marry in Belgium if at least one of the spouses has lived in the country for a minimum of three months.
According to the Belgian Official Journal, 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 married couples were gay male couples; the remainder were lesbian couples. 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 to same-sex couples two and a half years earlier.
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. It was passed in April 2006, thereby enabling legal co-parenting by same-sex couples.
Legislative history of the same-sex marriage bill
The bill was introduced in the Senate by Jeannine Leduc (VLD), Philippe Mahoux (PS), Philippe Monfils (MR), Myriam Vanlerberghe (SP.A-Spirit), Marie Nagy (Ecolo) and Frans Lozie (Agalev) on May 28, 2002.
The bill passed the Senate on November 28, 2002, with 46 votes to 15 (75,41%).
The bill passed the Chamber of Representatives on January 30, 2003, with 91 votes to 22 (80,53%).
King Albert II signed and promulgated the bill on February 13, 2003.
The Act was published in the Belgian Official Journal on February 28, 2003.
In accordance with article 23 of the Act, it came into force on June 1, 2003.
Since then, the first paragraph of article 143 of the Belgian Civil Code (Book I, Title V, Chapter I) reads as follows:
- * in Dutch: Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van hetzelfde geslacht.
- * in French: Deux personnes de sexe différent ou de même sexe peuvent contracter mariage.
- (Two persons of different sexes or of the same sex may contract marriage.)