Most children in Belgium carry the father’s last name The Belgian Institute for Gender Equality (IEFH) has notified the Ministers of Justice and Equal Opportunity to change an article in the law concerning the transmission of family names to newborn children.
The article grants the father a veto right in cases of disagreement, the institute said in a statement on Thursday (11 August).
The institute wants to “advise the legislature about its obligation before the end of the year to amend the law, while ensuring respect for equality of women and men, by addressing the discrimination of women without creating new discrimination, “ the statement said.
The Act of May 8, 2014 leaves the choice of the child’s family name to the parents. But in case of disagreement, article 2 provides that the child receives the father’s name automatically.
“The father has therefore a veto, which allows him to prevent the child from also receiving the name of the mother. This provision discriminates against women.”
The institute therefore asks the legislator to eliminate such discrimination. It recommends automatically assigning a double surname in case of disagreement or lack of parental choice and that the order of the names is determined neutrally in cases of disagreement.
The institute also advocates a transitional provision allowing women who were wronged by the veto to transmit their name to their children.
According to data from the National Population Registry, among the 165 561 children born in Belgium between 1 June 2014 and 31 December 2015, the overwhelming majority or 149 933 carried the father’s last name.
6 469 children had the name of the mother, 7 029 the double names of both father and mother, and 1 138 the double names of both mother and father (in that order).