Belgium has a progressive legal framework on the rights of LGBTI persons and an Interfederal Action Plan against discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons. In many places in the world, however, LGBTI persons still face serious forms of discrimination and often extreme violence. Belgium deems it unacceptable that same-sex relationships are still considered a criminal offence in many countries and may even lead to the death penalty in a number of countries. A relentless focus on ensuring equal treatment and protection for all LGBTI persons remains essential.
As such, Belgium contributes to the implementation of the EU human rights guidelines on the promotion and protection of the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI. With these guidelines, Belgium and the EU aim to promote and protect all human rights of LGBTI on the basis of international legal standards. They are committed to decriminalising and combating discriminatory legislation and policies, promoting equality and non-discrimination, combating homophobic violence and providing support and protection to human rights defenders and activists striving for the same rights for LGBTI. Both are well aware that this can lead to sensitive discussions in many parts of the world and will take into account the local reality in which human rights defenders have to act for their cause.
As a member of the Human Rights Council, in 2011 Belgium supported the adoption of a ground-breaking resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2016, Belgium, again as a member of the Human Rights Council, supported the creation of the mandate of the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. Both initiatives were strongly contested and remain controversial. Belgium continues to actively support the mandate and the work of this independent expert, including through participation in the interactive dialogues with him.
Belgium is a founding member of the informal network around the organisation of the IDAHOT+ Forum (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia). This essentially European network aims at mainstreaming the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons. To this end, every year it brings together experts on the rights of LGBTI persons for consultations. In 2017, Belgium hosted the 5th IDAHOT Forum.
Belgium is also a founding member of the Equal Rights Coalition, a coalition of 42 countries committed to promoting the rights of LGBTI people.
Also within the framework of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Belgium is actively committed to the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBTI.