European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Update from Belgium – legal gender recognition revision continues

Yesterday, ILGA-Europe, together with Belgian NGOs Cavaria and Genres Pluriels, sat down with representatives of the Belgian ministries currently working on a draft law on legal gender recognition. 

We met with the cabinets of Koen Geens (Justice Minister) and Elke Sleurs (State Secretary on Equality) to discuss the version of the new law that was submitted to the Council of Ministers on 9 December.
 
Some elements of the new law are very welcome. These include plans to completely remove the requirement to undergo sterilisation and medicalisation (for those over 18), introduce the possibility of change of first name for children from the age of 12 and provisions on family rights.
 
However there are several lingering concerns. Under the current proposal, applicants would still have to obtain a certificate from a trans organisation that proves that they have been fully informed of the legal consequences of the legal gender recognition.  Also, there is a three month period during which the public prosecutor could advise against the gender recognition of the applicant, and LGR would only be available to people over 16 who get a psychiatric certificate, attesting of their ability to provide free consent.
 
We raised these issues with the ministries yesterday and received some reassurance, for example that the public prosecutor would only give negative advice in exceptional circumstances.
 
ILGA-Europe hope that these concerns will be addressed as the law makes its way through the remaining legislative steps. The bill will now be sent to the Council of State for their technical legislative advice and verification of constitutional and legal requirements.