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Belgium, a pioneer in civil rights, celebrates 20 years of marriage equality with a song

As one of the first countries, specifically the second, to legally recognize same-sex marriages in 2003, Belgium reaffirms its dedication to equality and human rights two decades later. The Belgian government has chosen to celebrate the 20th anniversary of marriage equality with an international campaign that promotes Belgian and European values.

Specifically, this pertains to the song “The Right Words” by Belgian artist Alice on the Roof. It was inspired by the love story of her two friends, and through her song, she conveys a message of love, support, understanding, acceptance, and solidarity to the world, as reported by the internet portal CroL. “My lyrics embody their intimate ponderings,” shares Alice. “Questions like ‘Do I like this girl? Does it mean I like girls? Do I have the right to embrace my feelings and say, ‘I want you; I love you?’ In Belgium, the answer is a resounding ‘YES’.”

Who is Alice on the Roof?

Alice Dutoit is a talented Belgian artist whose pseudonym is a play on words from her last name, which in French translates to “from the roof.” She was born in 1995 and throughout her years of creative work, she explores themes of self-discovery, introspection, and the complexity of human emotions in a highly creative and authentic manner, incorporating elements of pop, folk, and electronic music.

She participated in the Belgian edition of “The Voice,” reaching the semi-finals. Following this, she released her debut single “Easy Come Easy Go,” which gained considerable popularity in Belgium. Additionally, Alice is a vocal advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, which is why she serves as the vocal representative for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the introduction of marriage equality in Belgium.

Located in the heart of Europe, where openness to diversity is practically encoded in the nation’s genetic makeup, Belgium has always been a pioneer in civil rights. On January 20, 2003, the Belgian parliament, with a significant majority of votes, passed the law that at that time transformed the lives of many same-sex couples.

34 countries around the world have legalized same-sex marriages

The institution of marriage remained unchanged, but it was extended to couples who previously could not, for example, exercise the right to adopt children and other rights that were previously reserved only for heterosexual couples. Highly developed, multilingual, and ambitious, Belgium became an example for other countries, inspiring them on the path toward a more just and inclusive society that celebrates love in all its forms.

To this day, 34 countries worldwide have legalized same-sex marriages. Europe is a frontrunner in the progressive human rights movement, with even 33 European countries recognizing same-sex partnerships through marriages, partnerships, or another form.

Netherlands led the way in this endeavor back in 2001, followed closely by Belgium. In the subsequent years, many major European countries joined, but the path to legal recognition of same-sex marriages proved, and still remains, rather tumultuous.

In North Macedonia, same-sex partnerships are not legally recognized, and these communities lack any rights. The Family Law defines marriage as a “union of life between a man and a woman,” and similarly defines extramarital partnerships. According to ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe Map, our country has achieved only 29% of the necessary reforms to achieve full equality for LGBTQ+ individuals and ranks 32nd out of 49 European countries. Family rights represent one of the areas where progress lags most behind. Conversely, we have Belgium, which officially celebrates legal equality and societal diversity through song from the highest legislative instance. Changes, acceptance, and, ultimately, the triumph of love and justice emanate from the heart of Europe.