For the first time more lesbians than gays are marrying in Belgium, according to very interesting and detailed gay marraige statistics released in Belgium today by the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and published in French in Le Soir.
So far more than 17,000 gays and lesbians have married since 2003, with numbers reasonably steady at about 2,000 per year. Not bad for a small country of 10 million.
But the really interesting figures are the regional and gender breakdowns.
As many same sex couples married in the Flemish city of Antwerp (population 450,000) in 2010, as in the whole of Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium (population 3.5 million). Even more than a highly international city like Brussels, the people of Flanders are addicted to same sex marriage. With only four times the population Flanders was responsible for eight times as many same sex marriages as the Brussels region. (768 to 92 in 2010!)
Regarding the rise of the women, it is suggested that this is to make parenting arrangements easier to complete (including adoption not just insemination). Indeed, it is a little known fact that lesbians flock to Belgium for IVF treatment and adoption options, especially catering to French women in some instances).
Divorce is also on the rise for both gay and lesbian couples, but the study’s author says it is too early to give a meaningful comparison between homosexual and heterosexual divorce rates in Belgium. Seven years after the start of equality, about 8% of same sex couples have divorced.
The prediction of the author, David Paternotte, who is also looking at gay marrriages of people in France and Spain is clear “there is without doubt a snowball effect both in terms of rights affirmed by government and by jurisprudence (the courts)”