The Belgian Senate approved a bill last week allowing same-sex couples to marry.
If passed by an upcoming vote in the lower house, the bill would grant same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, with some exceptions. Same-sex couples would still be unable to adopt children, and the birth mother in a lesbian partnership would be listed as the single parent of the child.
The bill was proposed by Belgium’s Rainbow Coalition after same-sex marriages were legalised in 2000 in the Netherlands. At present, the Netherlands is the only nation that has granted same-sex couples full marriage rights.
Prime minister Guy Verhofstadt announced in a statement last year that mentalities had changed, and that there is no longer any reason not to open marriage to people of the same sex.
Health minister Magda Alvoet also told CNN.com at the time of the initial proposal that the government considers the right to marry a constitutional right, and the chance to marry the sole true opportunity to see that homosexual and heterosexual couples are treated the same way.
The bill was passed in the upper house with 46 votes in favour and 15 against, with four abstentions, and will need to overcome opposition from three parties in the lower house to become law. The proposed law would apply to Belgians as well as couples from countries with similar laws.