Belgium has retained second place in a list of European countries ranked according to the rights of LGBT people. Once again Malta tops the Rainbow Index list, with Belgium in second place but with a score down from 79% to 73%
The reason, according to Jeroen Borghs of the LGBT rights group Cavaria, is that the list includes new criteria on matters where Belgium does not score so well, mainly relating to intersex people. Those are people who are born such that it is impossible to say whether they are physically male or female.
“Belgium does not include intersex people in anti-discrimination laws,” Borghs told the VRT. “There is also no restriction in Belgium on unnecessary medical interventions on intersex people. Operating on babies and children to bring their bodies more into line with that of a boy or girl without their consent is bad for the later development of the child, aside from being a breach of human rights.”
Another point where Belgium loses points is in gender registration. While the M or F/V (male or female) on the identity card can be changed, the choice remains between only male or female, with no other option available. “People who do not feel at home in the male or female pigeon-holes have for the time being no other choice.”
The same problem exists in the field of hate crimes. At present homophobia against gays and lesbians is characterised as hate crime, leaving no room for hate crimes against transsexual or intersex people. “The legislation needs to be broadened out,” said Borghs.
The Rainbow Index is presented annually in the run-up to International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which falls on 17 May. This year’s Pride in Brussels takes place the following day, this year drawing attention not only to the problems of homophobia and transphobia, but also the situation of people with a handicap, those living in poverty and those who have had to flee their homeland.