Belgium set to debate gay adoption with free vote
1 June 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium could soon debate whether to give gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children.
On Wednesday, the newspaper ‘La Libre’ said there was consensus among the majority parties for the move.
On Tuesday, the parties which make up prime minister Guy Verhofstadt’s coalition met to discuss a proposal to change Belgium’s civil code.
Flemish social democrat Guy Swennen (SPA), who drafted the law, argued there was no reason to exclude gay couples – who are already allowed under Belgian law to marry – from adopting.
According to ‘La Libre’, the SPA party, the francophone socialists (PS), Verhofstadt’s Liberal VLD party and the green Ecolo would all vote for the law.
The francophone centre-right MR leadership has said it will allow its MPs to vote as they wish, as it has on other ethical questions.
Amendments are currently being made to the law by the parliament’s justice committee before it can be put to the vote. The committee had to decide, for instance, which parent’s surname would be legally given to an adopted child and has decided the couple should settle the question between themselves.
The law could be put to the vote next week, with the Flemish Christian democrat party CD&V, the francophone Christian social party CDH and the extreme-right Vlaams Belang all expected to resist it.
In what is a predominantly Catholic country, the church has also already shown itself hostile to the law. On Tuesday, Belgium’s Catholic bishops released a statement expressing their “deepest concern”.
“In the current context, such a measure would encourage still further the idea that homosexual couples are simply an alternative to a couple formed of a man and a woman,” said the bishops.
“Allowing the union between two men or two women to be called ‘marriage’ is already an abuse of the sense of the word and above all, of the fundamental reality that it denotes.
“Legalising adoption under such conditions would only add to the confusion over sexual difference, which is the basis of any family.”
The previous government coalition also tried to legalise gay adoption when it introduced the right to same-sex marriage, but gave up after a failure to win enough support for the measure. Then, the MR was opposed to the proposal.
Proponents of the bill will be hoping that the climate of debate throughout Europe on gay rights can help their cause. Last month, for instance, the overwhelmingly Catholic country Spain surprised international commentators by becoming the second European country to legalise both gay marriage and adoption.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news