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Belgium braces for gay adoption debate

December 29, 2003

BRUSSELS — Belgium, which legalised same-sex marriages in January this year, is set for a debate on the right of gays to adopt children as the Flemish liberal democratic party of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt readies to unveil a draft law to that effect.

The bill is to be officially presented Monday by party president Karel De Gucht and the MP behind the draft, Martine Taelman.

Besides the liberal democrats, the draft will likely receive support from the Francophone and Flemish socialist parties, members of the majority, as well as the opposition Francophone Greens of Ecolo, Belgian media reported.

Such backing would ensure a small majority in favour of the adoption of the law in federal parliament.

Belgium became only the second European country to allow gay marriage after the Netherlands, and at least 139 gay couples have registered since the law was introduced earlier this year.

Gay couples now enjoy most of the same rights as heterosexual married partners, apart from those related to adoption -- meaning that in a lesbian couple the biological mother would remain legally a single parent. –Sapa-AFP

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