General legal framework

AuthorNathalie Wuiame
2 General legal framework
2.1 Constitution
2.1.1 Constitutional ban on sex discrimination
The Belgian Constitution prohibits sex discrimination in Article s 10 and 11.
Although Article 10(2) provid es that ‘Belgians are equal before th e law’ (a wording which
has never varied since its original adoption in 1831), an Act of 21 February 2002 inserted
an additional Paragraph 3: ‘Equality betwe en women and men is guaranteed’. The same
act also inserted Article 11bis (1), which reads: Laws or [legislative acts of federate
authorities guarantee that women and men may equally exercise their rights and
freedoms, and in particular promote their equal access to elective an d public mandates.’
The remainder of Article 11bis then provides tha t the federal and federate governments
must be composed of persons of both sexes, and that the legislative instruments of the
respective authorities must impose the same rule upon the composition of all public
executive bodies at subordinate levels of administration (e.g. the board of mayor and
aldermen of a local council).
2.1.2 Other constitutional protection of equality between men an d women
There is no other constitutional protection of equality between men and women.
2.2 Equal treatment legislation
Belgium has a specific equal treatment law. Currently, at the federal level, it is the Gender
Act of 10 May 2007 which prohibits sex discrimination, while two sister anti-discrimination
acts adopted on the same date contain provisions to combat discrimination on the ground
of other criteria: the Race Act, the scope of which coincides with that of Directive
2000/43/EC; and the Discrimination in General Act. Th e latter act deals with 12 criteria,
including those mentioned in Directive 2000/78/EC, others mentioned in Article 21 of the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union such as ‘fortune’, and some
developed at the nation al level, such as ‘health’. At the f ederate level, all legislative
instruments mentioned above deal with sex among all those various cri teria.
It must be mentioned here that, given that all federate pieces of legislation are inspired
by their federal counterparts, in order to keep this rep ort manageable, they will not be
referred to hereafter unless it is unavoidable.

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