Flanders would rather see women holding hands than men

Flanders would rather see women holding hands than men
Antwerp Pride 2021. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

Belgium has mostly liberal views of the LGBTQ+ community, but there is still work to be done in Flanders. In Flanders, it is harder for people to see two men walking hand in hand than two women, according to a survey by Het Laatste Nieuws and VTM Nieuws among 1,000 Flemish people.

As long as the issue is abstract, Flemish people are tolerant towards the LGBTQ+ community, with 89% of respondents agreeing that everyone should be able to express their sexual orientation freely.

However, a large part of people take issue with adoption by LGBTQ+ couples. 29% of respondents believe that a child should be raised by a man and a woman, 23% think it is a step too far for parents of the same sex to adopt a child.

Male sexuality viewed differently than women's

Further to this, there are clear differences in perceptions towards two women and two men in a relationship. For 59% of respondents, it is self-evident that men can walk hand in hand in public, while for two women holding hands the number increases to 73%.

"The sexuality of men is still viewed differently than that of women," said Bart Abeel, chairperson of Antwerp Pride, in Het Laastse Nieuws. Men showing each other affection to each other: that is seen as a clear statement, while women more often walk hand in hand or arm in arm, even in a non-relational context."

Negative views on transgender people

Views towards transgender people are even more negative. 73% believe that people can go through life with the gender they identify with, while 25% think it is a trend.

Coming out as gay is more accepted than coming out as transgender. 62% of Flemish people would support their child who came out as gay, but for transgenders that number drops to 40%.

"That is not surprising, which does not make it any less of a shame," Abeel said.

"In recent years we have seen seen a progression in the acceptance of a different sexual orientation. Gender identity is something completely different: people have even less knowledge about that, which makes it more difficult to accept."

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