Nulla facilisi. Nulla consequat massa quis enim. Ut tincidunt tincidunt erat. Phasellus blandit leo ut odio. Curabitur suscipit suscipit tellus.

Duis lobortis massa imperdiet quam. Aenean imperdiet. Phasellus ullamcorper ipsum rutrum nunc. Etiam ut purus mattis mauris sodales aliquam. Sed consequat, leo eget bibendum sodales, augue velit cursus nunc, quis gravida magna mi a libero.

Legal framework

This section lists Belgium's protected characteristics.

The beginning of the Constitution is very heavily focussed on autonomous areas and their language and regional identity.  Article 2 specifically states that Belgium comprises of three communities – Flemish, the French and the German speaking areas.  Article 3 specifically states that Belgium comprises of three Regions, Flemish region, Walloon Region and the Brussels Region.  Article 4- describes the four linguistic regions – the Dutch speaking, French speaking, bilingual region of Brussels – Capital and the German speaking region. Each municipality of the Kingdom forms part of one of these linguistic regions. The boundaries can only be changed if a law is passed by a majority of the votes cast in each linguistic group in each House, on condition that a majority of the members of each group is present, and total number of votes cast in the two linguistic groups is equal to at least two thirds (66%) of the votes cast.

Article 10 is very clear that “no class distinctions exist in the State”.  “Belgians are equal before the law, equality between women and men is guaranteed”.  Article 11 expresses the rights and freedoms recognised for Belgians must be provided without discrimination and guarantee among others the rights and freedoms of ideological and philosophical minorities.  Article 19, highlights the freedom of worship, in public practice and freedom to demonstrate one’s opinions on all matters are guaranteed.  In Article 21, the State does not have the right to intervene either in the appointment or in the installation of ministers of any religion whatsoever.  A civil wedding should always precede the blessing of the marriage. Article 22 bis each child “is entitled to have its moral, physical, mental and sexual integrity respected”.

Article 23 expresses “everyone has the right to lead a life in keeping with human dignity”.  The rights include “right to employment, right to social security, to decent accommodation, to the protection of a healthy environment, and to cultural and social fulfilment”, all encompassed in the Constitution.

The main anti-discriminations law enacted on 10 May 2007 at a federal level adopted three acts General Anti-Discrimination, Racial Equality and Gender Equality.  The anti-discrimination covers age, sexual orientation, religious and philosophical conviction, disability, with general criteria being marital status, place of birth, economic or wealth status, political conviction, trade union or synodical conviction, language, health status, physical or genetic characteristics and social status.  The Gender Equality Act expressly includes pregnancy, maternity, reassignment and gender identity or gender expression.  The Racism Act, nationality, so-called race, or colour of skin, social background, national or ethnic origin. 

https://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/constitution/GrondwetUK.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_legislation_in_Belgium

https://knowledge.leglobal.org/anti-discrimination-laws-in-belgium/

Adoption for all couples (whatever gender or sexual orientation) are equal under Federal Law of 18 May 2006. This includes both joint adoption and step-child adoption by same-sex couples.

An employee who adopts a child is entitled to adoption leave.

Adoption leave is for a period of:

  • Six weeks, where the child has not attained the age of three at the beginning of the leave.
  • Four weeks, where the child is aged three or over at the beginning of the leave.

This leave period is doubled if the child has a physical or mental disability or a significant disease.

Adoption leave must begin within two months of the child being registered as part of the employee's household in the records of the municipality of residence.

Remuneration for the first three days is paid by the employer, with social security paying compensation for the remainder of the leave period.

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/1-503-2613?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1

Age is a protected characteristic and covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

There is an equal age of consent of 16 years for sexual acts regardless of gender or sexual orientation under Article 372 of the Penal Code.

Men who sleep with men (MSM) are banned from giving blood, unless they have gone one full year (deferral) without any interaction, which was brought in 2017.

Registered partnerships are open to all couples irrelevant of their make-up under the Law of November 23rd 1998.

 

The law is ambiguous so conversion therapy still happens and has yet to be outlawed in terms of the law.

The Federal General Anti-Discrimination laws enacted on 10th May 2007 including both Gender and Race Equality Acts means that all equality strands are covered with regard to discrimination including hate speech.

Disability is a protected characteristic and is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Economic or wealth status is a protected characteristic and is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

There have been anti-discrimination laws in education legislation since 2003, however with Federal General Anti-Discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 everything was now covered.

There have been anti-discrimination laws in employment legislation since 2003, further extended by the Federal General Anti-Discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 .

Ethnic Origin or national extraction is a protected characteristic and is covered under the Federal anti-discrimination laws (Racism Act) enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Article 19 of the Belgian Constitution highlights the freedom of worship, its public practice and freedom to demonstrate one’s opinions on all matters are guaranteed and added to that under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 faith is a protected characteristic and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Employees have a right to career breaks to assist or provide care to a household or family member suffering from a serious illness.

For full-time workers, the career break can take one of the following forms:

  • A full-time suspension of the employment contract.
  • A half-time reduction of work.
  • A one-fifth reduction of work.

Career breaks have a maximum duration of:

  • 12 months in the case of a full-time suspension.
  • 24 months in the case of a half-time reduction of work.
  • 60 months in the case of a one-fifth reduction of work.

Career breaks can be extended to an additional period of 36 months to assist or provide care to a household or family member suffering from a serious illness. A similar break is provided for supporting a person in palliative care.

Career breaks can be extended to an additional period of 48 months to provide care to a disabled child (aged 21 or younger) or to assist or to provide care to a minor child who is seriously ill.

Interruption allowance is paid by social security to employees. The amount of this allowance is fixed. No remuneration is paid by the employer during a career break.

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/1-503-2613?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1

Article 10 is very clear that “no class distinctions exist in the State”.  “Belgians are equal before the law, equality between women and men is guaranteed”.  Furthermore, The Gender Equality Act as part of the Federal Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 include gender as a protected characteristic and therefore grounds of protection from discrimination.

uto/gender-equality-pays-off_b_2828480.html

The Gender Equality Act as part of the Federal Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore gender identity, gender reassignment, or gender expression are seen as protected characteristics and are grounds of protection from discrimination. Transgender people had been legally able to marry a person of the sex opposite to their acquired gender under Article 143 of the Belgian Civil Code (modified by the Law of the 13 February 2003). The Federal Transgender law of  10 May 2007 provides transgender people explicitly with the right to change their legal gender and first name.  Legal gender can be changed on all identification documents including the birth certificate.  The change of legal gender is subject to surgical intervention, a medical diagnosis and an infertility condition post-surgery. Furthermore, in April 24 2014, explicitly new trans inclusive anti-discrimination laws  included anti bullying with regards to gender identity and expression.

Genetic information is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore are included as a protected characteristic and grounds of protection from discrimination.

All Hate speech regardless of the strand of equality is covered under Article 22 of the 2007 General Anti-Discrimination laws which covers age, sexual orientation, religious and philosophical conviction, disability, with general criteria being marital status, place of birth, economic or wealth status, political conviction, trade union or synodical conviction, language, health status, physical or genetic characteristics and social status.  The Gender Equality Act expressly includes pregnancy, maternity, reassignment and gender identity or gender expression.  The Racism Act, nationality, so-called race, or colour of skin, social background, national or ethnic origin. 

There have been anti-discrimination laws in housing legislation since 2003, extended by the Federal General Anti-Discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007.

Ideological conviction is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore as a protected characteristic are included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

The Federal Transgender law of the 10 May 2007 provides intersex people explicitly with the right to change their legal gender and first name.  Legal gender can be changed on all identification documents including the birth certificate.  The change of legal gender is subject to surgical intervention, a medical diagnosis and an infertility condition post-surgery.

Language is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore as a protected characteristic are included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Marriage status is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore as a protected characteristic are included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Same-sex marriage was introduced by the Law of 13 February 2003, modifying the Belgian Code, but as the Constitution provided the right to marry (and that people, men and women are equal). 

The Gender Equality Act as part of the Federal Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore maternity is  a protected characteristic and grounds of protection from discrimination.

Maternity leave lasts for 15 weeks as follows:

  • Six weeks of prenatal leave, including a mandatory week off just before the expected date of birth of the new-born.
  • Nine weeks of postnatal leave.

 

In the case of multiple births, maternity leave lasts for 19 weeks as follows:

  • Eight weeks of prenatal leave, including a mandatory week off just before the expected date of birth of the new-borns.
  • Nine weeks of postnatal leave (which is extendable for two weeks at the employee's request).

 

Maternity leave can be extended up to 24 weeks in the case of hospitalisation of the new-born.

The allowance for maternity leave is paid in whole by the Belgian social security system.

The employee is also protected against dismissal during the period from the date the employer is notified of the pregnancy until the end of the month following the maternity leave.

For the first 30 days after the child is born employees get paid 80% of their salary, and  75% for the rest of the time.  It is possible for mothers to take eight months of part-time leave instead of the 15 full weeks.

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/1-503-2613?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1

http://uk.businessinsider.com/countries-with-best-parental-leave-2016-8/#belgium-4

Health Status is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore as a protected characteristic are included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Belgium Armed Forces permit LGBT people to serve openly.  However, if the behaviour of an individual who is LGBT causes problems, that individual is subject to discipline or discharge. In some cases, LGBT personnel have been transferred from their unit if they have been too open with their sexuality. The Belgian military also continues to reserve the right to deny LGBT personnel high-level security clearances, for fear they may be susceptible to blackmail.  

Nationality is a protected characteristic and is covered under the Federal anti-discrimination laws (Racism Act) enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Employees can take parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child in one of the following forms:

  • A full-time suspension of the employment contract for three months.
  • A half-time reduction of work for a period of six months, divisible into several periods not exceeding six months.
  • A one-fifth reduction of work for a period of 15 months, divisible into several periods not exceeding 15 months.

The leave must be taken before the child reaches his 12th birthday.

Under certain conditions, the employee is entitled to an allowance paid by social security. In principle, remuneration is not paid by the employer during the leave.

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/1-503-2613?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1

Maternity leave can be converted to paternity leave in the case of the mother's death or hospitalisation.

Fathers can also take birth leave. This is ten days of leave that can be taken within four months from the date of the new-born's delivery. This leave is also open to co-parents, that is, the partner of the mother whose affiliation with the child is not established. The employer pays normal remuneration of the first three days off, with the other seven days being paid by an allowance paid by social security.

Fathers are given 10 days leave, three of which are 100% pay, the remaining seven are paid at 82% of their salary if they use it during the baby’s first four months.

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/1-503-2613?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1

http://uk.businessinsider.com/countries-with-best-parental-leave-2016-8/#belgium-4

Place of Birth is a protected characteristic and is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

Political Affiliation is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore are included as a protected characteristic and grounds of protection from discrimination.

 

The Gender Equality Act as part of the Federal Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 include pregnancy as a protected characteristic and therefore grounds of protection from discrimination.

Race/ Colour is a protected characteristic and is covered under the Federal anti-discrimination laws (Racism Act) enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

 

 

Article 19 of the Belgian Constitution highlights the freedom of worship, its public practice and freedom to demonstrate one’s opinions on all matters are guaranteed and added to that under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 religion or religious belief is a protected characteristic and therefore included as grounds of protection from discrimination.

There is a national strategy for Roma integration in Belgium, with approximately 30,000 Roma, 0.29% of the population.

https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-belgium_en

Violence, harassment and sexual harassment at work are prohibited.

 

The employer must conduct a risk analysis and identify measures that can be taken to prevent violence, harassment and sexual harassment at work. These measures are then taken after consulting the Committee for the Prevention and Protection at Work.

 

The employer must employ a prevention adviser specialising in the psychosocial aspects of work:

  • When employing fewer than 50 employees, the employer must employ the prevention adviser from an external service for prevention and protection at work.

 

  • When employing 50 or more employees, the employer can decide that the duties of the prevention adviser will be performed by an internal service for prevention and protection at work. In this case, the employer must obtain the consent of all members of the Committee for the Prevention and Protection at Work.

The employer can also designate one or more trusted persons who will assist the prevention adviser.

An employee who is the victim of harassment or violence at work can file a complaint to the prevention advisor or the trusted person. He can also complain to an official inspection service or to the work prosecutor.

Sexual Orientation is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore are included as a protected characteristic and grounds of protection from discrimination.

Social Condition or status is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore are included as a protected characteristic and grounds of protection from discrimination.

Access to IVF treatment for lesbians has been possible since 2006, however commercial surrogacy for all male couples irrespective of their sexual orientation has been banned.

Parents' rights in the case of surrogacy are not specifically covered by Belgian social law.

https://uk.practicallaw.thomsonreuters.com/1-503-2613?transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true&comp=pluk&bhcp=1

Trade Union or Synodical affiliation is covered under the Federal General Anti-discrimination laws enacted on 10 May 2007 and therefore are included as a protected characteristic and grounds of protection from discrimination.