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Sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and intersex variations ... This rich diversity poses specific metropolitan challenges: ensuring a safe and stimulating living and working environment for everyone in the Brussels Capital Region.

Inclusion of LBGTQIA+people

Brussels, like many other metropolises, has a rich array of LGBTQIA+ communities that feel at home in the capital. The acronym stands for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex persons and the A for allies (allies), asexual, aromantic or agender. The + represents the inclusion of anyone not named in the previous categories.

Sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and intersex variations are part of the identity experience, alongside other aspects such as age, disability, social origin and situation, ethnic-cultural background,... It is a multi-layered issue.

This rich diversity poses specific metropolitan challenges: guaranteeing a safe and stimulating living and working environment for everyone in the Brussels-Capital Region, respecting each other and ensuring inclusion for all. Here, positive role models and visibility of diversity are crucial. Unfortunately, there are regular reports of homophobia and transphobia, both hate crimes, hate speech and discrimination in housing and the workplace. Moreover, there are big differences between LGBTQIA+ communities in terms of discrimination and aggression.  This is not only a Brussels problem, which is why the Brussels Region is involved in international collaborations such as the Rainbow Cities Network and in projects such as Equalcities and the pilot project on under-reporting of LGBTQIA+ hate crimes in collaboration with BPV and RainbowHouse.

To coordinate everything properly, there is the Brussels action plan for the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons 2022-2025. This plan was developed on the basis of a thorough evaluation of the previous SOGI action plan 2017-2020 together with experts and some 25 CSOs. For the current plan, some six working groups were organised together with the various administrations and cabinets.

Discover the LGBTQIA+-plan 2022-2025

Monitoring hate crimes and hate speech

Despite the progress in equal opportunities for LGBTQIA+ communities in recent decades and the good score for Belgium in the annual ILGA report, LGBTQIA+ persons continue to regularly face verbal aggression, harassment, prejudice, physical aggression, discrimination and so on. This observation is equally true for LGBTQIA+ in the Brussels Capital Region. The 2019 Crime Survey found that the majority of respondents adjust in public and try not to be recognised as LGBTQIA+ for fear of aggression. Many LGBTQIA+ persons have become accustomed to violence and there is a limited willingness to report, also because of the fear of a second traumatisation during the reporting due to unfamiliarity of the police with the complex themes. These include the feeling that the police will not take the facts seriously, lack of trust, sense of impunity, and fear of negative reactions when outing, or the fact that the victims are not outing, and may not wish to do so for various reasons. The concept of outing is a strongly Western approach. There is also a problem of dismissing many cases, something that is currently being studied by UNIA in collaboration with the KBS.

One of the main objectives of the Brussels action plan is better data collection and data management of cases of LGBTQIA+ phobia. As a result, together with the Brussels Observatory for Prevention and Safety, and RainbowHouse, a project was set up in April 2019, to register complaints in a very low-threshold way with a non-profit organisation. This approach is a pilot project and also a first given that the problem of the threshold to the police is not only a Brussels problem, but is equally experienced in other European cities. In addition, UNIA is conducting research together with the King Baudouin Foundation into why so many cases are dismissed by the public prosecutors.

International – Rainbow Cities Network

Since 2016, the Brussels Capital Region has been an official member of the Rainbow Cities Network.

The Rainbow Cities Network is formed by policy-makers from cities that have active LGBTQIA+ policies. Currently, the Rainbow Cities Network consists of thirty-five cities External link(June 2021), both European and non-European. The Brussels Capital Region is part of the Network's steering committee for the period 2018 to 2022.

Exchange of best practices and policy initiatives are the main objectives of this network. In addition, the network gives the opportunity to establish partnerships with other cities, as is the case in the context of the Europe4Citizens projectExternal link on LGBTI Policy Guidelines, where the Brussels-Capital Region is one of the initiators and hosts the first of a series of five events (in June 2021). The next events will be in Berlin, Cork, Aarhus and Kotor.

More info on the network and its activities via the website of Rainbow Cities NetworkExternal link.


On 17 May 1990, WHO, the World Health Organisation, removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Since then, the LGBT and transgender community has declared this day as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Every year, several activities are organised by the civil society in the Brussels Region, as well as several buildings are put in colours, with lights or flags.

To better understand non-traditional or rainbow family life in Brussels and highlight the difficulties faced by LGBTQIA+ persons, BOZAR, VICE and made the video 'Colours of the Rainbow: We are Family' in 2020. In this documentary, members of the LGBTQIA+ community shared their experiences.

Colours of the Rainbow: We Are Family

Colours of the Rainbow: We are Family. Documentaire from 2020 with, among others: Jessica Gysel, Fabien Gaudry, Jaouad Alloul, Rachael Moore, Joelle / Eclipse, Jhaya La Vogue, Nick Arnaud Giriyuja. Een initiatief van BOZAR, VICE en

Pilot project on under-reporting of hatecrimes

In 2019, together with Brussels Prevention & Safety, and RainbowHouse launched a pilot project for reporting LGBTQIA+ phobe incidentsExternal link.

According to the 2019 FRA surveyExternal link, only about 20% of hate crimes are reported.

According to the Crime Survey (a 2019 qualitative study in the Brussels Capital Region on the general sense of safety within LGBTQIA+ communities, and motives for not reporting hate crimes), the most vulnerable and least visible groups, who are more likely to be exposed to intersectional discrimination, almost never go to the police. The reasons for not reporting are diverse: 

  • fear of not being taken seriously, 
  • risk of further discrimination and retraumatisation; 
  • fear of coming-out by reporting; 
  • assumption that it would not make a difference, 
  • habituation to a certain level of violence and discrimination.
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