LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

New legal gender recognition legislation approved by Belgium!

Image of the Belgian flag

ILGA-Europe welcome Belgium’s decision to put an end to the sterilisation requirements and the mental health diagnosis previously required in order to have access to legal gender recognition.

Today’s vote in parliament means that Belgium will have a new law governing the legal gender recognition process.

The fact that the new procedure is largely based on self-determination, and is open to minors, is also positive news.

However, the new procedure falls short in several aspects. The fact that applicants must renew their intent to have their gender recognised within three months of their application, and that the King’s Prosecutor might take up to three months to give their final decision (which could be negative), are regrettable.

In addition to this, minors aged 12 and younger will only be able register a name in accordance with their gender but not have access to full legal gender recognition. Those aged 16 and under will only have access to legal gender recognition with parental authorisation, and after consultation with a psychiatrist. Finally, under the new law approved today, people may only have their gender recognised once. It is only when they justify “exceptional circumstances” that the applicant may change their gender marker again, this time through a court procedure.

“This is a vital step towards full recognition of the rights of trans people, but not the final step.” commented ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis.

“Several of the concerns expressed by the trans community and civil society groups (concerns shared by ILGA-Europe) were not taken into account by the Belgian authorities. That is a bit of a missed opportunity - especially when other European countries have gone even further and have adopted laws that permit legal gender recognition in a completely demedicalised procedure, based on self-determination, and open to all regardless of age."

ILGA-Europe hope that the Belgium government will continue to work with trans and intersex organisations on improving the legislation aiming for the highest standards in Europe.

This law will replace the previous legislation, dating from 2007 (loi relative à la transsexualité). It will be published in the Moniteur Belge within 10 days of today’s vote, before a royal decree is issued, bringing the law into force.