Belgium // Laws and Policies

At the federal level, Belgium adopted three anti-discrimination acts in 2007: the General Anti-Discrimination Federal Act, the Racial Equality Federal Act, and the Gender Act. The latter fights discrimination between women and men and relates to sex and assimilated areas, i.e. maternity, pregnancy and transgender issues. In addition to these laws a Gender Mainstreaming Law was adopted in 2007. It transposes the resolutions of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, with the aim of integrating gender in all federal policy fields. It also established the Interdepartmental Coordination Group, providing that all details be covered by royal decrees. The first royal decree (2010) determines the composition, remit and functioning of the group and the necessary qualifications its members must hold. It also regulates the elaboration of a federal gender mainstreaming plan and the submission of reports to the Parliament. A second royal decree was expected to be issued in compliance with Article 3 of the Gender-Mainstreaming Law, which calls for the implementation of a ‘gender test’ for all laws and regulations, and provides for the responsible minister to conduct an ex ante gender impact assessment. This was executed with the adoption of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (see further). In 2010, the Federal Institute for the Equality of Women and Men produced a Manual for the implementation of gender mainstreaming in the Belgian federal administration to help put this strategy into operation.

In 2013, with the adoption of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for all new regulation submitted to the Council of Ministers, Belgium made headway in terms of improving the quality of government regulation through administrative simplification. The RIA law (Law of 15 December 2013) and its royal decree (Royal Decree of 21 December 2013) were published in the Belgian law gazette at the end of 2013. The underlying purpose of the gender section of the Belgian RIA is to contribute to greater equality between women and men, and to do so within the framework of gender mainstreaming, constituting a de facto ‘gender test’.

At the regional level, in the Flemish Community/Flanders the main legislation of reference is the Framework Decree on Equal Opportunities and Equal Treatment Policy (2008), while in the French-speaking Community, equal opportunities policies are governed by the Decree on the Fight against Certain Forms of Discrimination (2008). In the same year, the Walloon Region adopted a similar decree concerning the fight against certain forms of discrimination, including discrimination between women and men. In 2014 the Walloon Region also adopted a Decree on the integration of the gender dimension in all regional policies. The French-speaking will adopt it in 2015.

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