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Letter from Brussels - Gays And The Community Question

by Bernardo van Eekhout in Columns & Opinions , 26 november 2007


Dear Northern Neighbors,

Are you following the political events in Belgium, now that Leterme has not been able to get the parties that won the last elections around the table to form a new government and that we could head for an independent Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels?


The thought is actually quite “Spooky,” to use one of Dame Edna’s phrases. The falling apart of Belgium would be unprecedented and nobody’s thought of the practical consequences. A Brussels’ tram, only going to the city’s border? And what are the consequences for gays?

First and foremost it would be a blessing for the organizing committee of the Brussels’ gay pride. For years the Flanders’ and the Wallonian organizations have been squabbling on who’s to organize this thing.

The squabbling took so long this year that the city and the police force picked their own date: Saturday the 12th of May. Eurovision Song Festival day. Everybody stayed in front of the television and it was maybe the last time.

Not to worry though, when Flanders is independent Antwerp will gladly take over the responsibility to organize Flemish Pride.

Many still think Antwerp is more of a gay capital anyway. As if there’s nothing else on offer in Belgium. Needless to say this opinion is dominant in Antwerp only.

But where would they hold the Wallonian Pride? There are no apparent candidates. Liege has a few gay establishments but Namen, Charleroi or Bergen have nothing at all. Maybe they are just forced to return to the Principality Brussels.



And what about gay marriages? What if you’re married to a Wallonian, and he’s all of a sudden a foreigner to your family? Will your marriage still be recognized in Wallonia or Brussels? That would be good for the right wing Vlaams Belang. Because they would like to get a lot stricter with the gays when Flanders would become independent. They are in a very strong position already and if they get stronger I even fear for the fate of the gay bars in Antwerp.


Although it all seems a bit alarming at the moment, things are not that explosive as it seems. It’s rather a sign of the misery in the relationship between the Flemish and the Wallonians. They can’t jointly organize a pride so they can’t form government either.

Will all these troubles make the organizing committees realize that it really is best to do things together? Isn’t is embarrassing that gays are just as stupid. Maybe for once we can show the Belgian politics a nice example of unity. We’re stronger together.

Your dedicated,

De Ket



 







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