Belgium will give non-binary people legal recognition, vows trans deputy prime minister Petra De Sutter

Petra De Sutter: Belgium will legally recognise non-binary people

Belgium will legally recognise non-binary people as part of reforms to gender recognition laws, deputy prime minister Petra De Sutter has confirmed.

De Sutter, a Green politician who was appointed last October, is the most senior transgender politician in Europe and Belgium’s first trans minister. She also serves as the minister for public administration and public enterprises in a seven-party coalition led by the Flemish liberal prime minister, Alexander De Croo.

Speaking at a parliamentary LGBT+ network event this week, De Sutter said that Belgium’s existing gender-recognition laws had “overlooked” non-binary people. The De Croo government has already said it will comply with a court ruling that found the existing law is exclusionary towards non-binary people.

“We are going to reform the gender recognition law to address specifically the situation for non-binary people,” De Sutter said, in an interview with Dutch senator Boris Dittrich, hosted by the Global Equality Caucus.

She added: “We already have a good law for legal gender recognition but it has overlooked non-binary people.”

Belgium will join Germany and Iceland in legally recognising non-binary people within Europe.

Most Australian territories, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Uruguay all legally recognise non-binary genders, with many more countries, US states and Canadian territories offering ‘X’ gender options on legal documents for non-binary citizens.

Naming Poland, Hungary and the UK as places where LGBT+ rights are under attack from politicians, Dittrich pointed to Britain’s “restrictive” laws on gender recognition for trans people as an example of a country Belgium could set an example for.

During their conversation, Petra De Sutter also singled out conversion therapy as a headline issue that “needs to be banned”. In 2018, the UK government committed to banning conversion therapy in its LGBT Action Plan – but almost three years on, no legislation has been brought forward.

De Sutter also told Dittrich that the Belgian government wants to “work more on non-discrimination, we have an interfederal plan on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics” that includes the rights of intersex people.

Calling intersex rights a “hot topic”, De Sutter said that “[intersex people] are a group that we will be working on in this government, specifically on medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex people”.