Today, as part of the European Union, Belgium is one of the world's most progressive countries and one of the best places to be LGBTQ.

The history

Prior to 1795, the modern borders of the Kingdom of Belgium existed mostly within the Holy Roman Empire and was divided between the Austrian Netherlands, the Duchy of Bouillon, and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, along with the Kingdom of France and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1795, when the country was a French possession.

Belgium's penal code sets  the age of consent at 16 - this is regardless of sexual orientation or gender. There has been equality in terms of Age of Consent since 1985.

Marriage Equality

In 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to allow same-sex marriages (following the Netherlands).

In Belgium, same-sex couples have the same rights as opposite-sex couples - this now extends to all aspects of life, including adoption, and access to IVF fertility treatments.

Protection against discrimination

Discrimination protections on the basis of sex and sexual orientation were implemented in 2003. These have since been extended to include gender identity and gender expression.

There are also additional penalties if it's shown that a crime is motivated by hate on the basis of things such as sex and sexual orientation.

LGBTQ people are welcome to serve in Belgium's military.

Public life

LGBTQ people are prominent in everyday life in Belgium. Larger cities have numerous queer-friendly venues, and there is a vibrant gay village in Brussels. It is common to see public displays of affection between same-sex couples.

Pride celebrations are generally held in May each year, and are well-attended and supported by government officials and politicians.

LGBTQ tourism as actively encouraged by Belgium's tourism authorities.

Photo by fotografierende / Unsplash

Follow Gareth Johnson on Twitter


Be part of queer history

Alongside U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable), the availability of PrEP means that we now have the tools to prevent the transmission of HIV.

Help educate everyone about the importance of getting tested regularly and the important role that PrEP can play in ending the transmission of the virus that our community has been grappling with for decades.