Dear colleagues,

It a pleasure to see that five years after its creation, the Equal Rights Coalition is being consolidated and reinvigorated.

This comes at a critical time, when in many places, including in Europe, the advancement of LGBTIQ rights is stagnating or even regressing. The Coalition can and must play its part in turning around this worrisome trend. We therefore welcome the formal launch of the Strategy and the Implementation Plan. Belgium is firmly committed to both.

The fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics is a priority for my country. We are in the process of drafting a new national action plan, and the focus will be to reinforce the safety of LGBTIQ persons.

It will include actions to counter discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes. It will aim both to foster awareness of LGBTIQ persons’ rights and to make law enforcement more efficient. We have worked, and we will continue to work with civil society to refine our action so as to push back against any manifestation of homophobia.

Belgium has the ambition to play a leading role internationally too. The coalition agreement of the government mentions decriminalization and protection of LGBTIQ persons as focus areas.  We fully subscribe to the EU LGBTIQ equality strategy. Our Embassies are also supporting human rights defenders and are actively participating in cultural events promoting LGBTIQ rights.

Multilaterally, Belgium staunchly supports the mandate of the Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

The Equal Rights Coalition’s Strategy and Implementation plan are a welcome addition to our toolbox. You can count on Belgium to participate actively in the working group on diplomacy and to meaningfully contribute towards achieving the coalition’s goals.

Thank you.