Same-sex marriage in Belgium

Same-sex marriage in Belgium
Legal recognition of
same-sex relationships


South Africa

Performed in some jurisdictions

Mexico: Mexico City
United States: CT, DC, IA, MA, NH, NY, VT, Coquille, Suquamish

Recognized, not performed

Aruba (Netherlands only)
Curaçao (Netherlands only)
Mexico: all states (Mexico City only)
Sint Maarten (Netherlands only)
United States: CA (conditional), MD

Civil unions and
registered partnerships

Czech Republic
- New Caledonia
- Wallis and Futuna

Isle of Man
New Zealand
United Kingdom

Performed in some jurisdictions

Australia: ACT, NSW, TAS, VIC
Mexico: COA
United States: CA, CO, DE, HI, IL, ME, NJ, NV, OR, RI, WA, WI

Unregistered cohabitation



Recognized in some jurisdictions

United States: MD

See also

Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage legislation
Timeline of same-sex marriage
Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe
Marriage privatization
Civil union
Domestic partnership
Listings by country

LGBT portal
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On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, 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 (Dutch: wettelijke samenwoning; French: cohabitation légale) in Belgium. The act gives limited rights to registered 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.[1]


Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe
  Same-sex marriage
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Issue under political consideration
  Constitution limits marriage to man–woman

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Legislative history

On May 28, 2002, a bill legalising same-sex marriage 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). 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.[2]

King Albert II signed and promulgated the bill on February 13, 2003 and on February 28 it was published in the Belgian Official Journal and came into force 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: 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.)

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.[3]


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 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.[4][specify]


See also

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