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Official papers to mention divorce only when necessary

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People will no longer have to mention whether they are divorced or widowed on administrative documents unless it is necessary, according to a bill approved on Wednesday by the Home Affairs Commission of Belgium’s Chamber.
Many official documents, including those of the Social Security Crossroads Bank, still mention that an individual is divorced or widowed. Many see this as a stigmatising experience that systematically takes them back in time and brings back painful memories.

The Parti socialiste (PS), Mouvement réformateur (MR), Open Vld and Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) submitted bills aimed at changing the situation, and on Tuesday the four parties worked out a joint text.

“That’s a trace in our system of a certain conservatism, from a time when marriage was considered as being for life, which is no longer in line with today’s reality,” PS parliamentarian Eric Thiébaut said.

“We’ve all received testimonies from people whom this affects on a daily basis,” said MR’s Gauthier Calomne, adding that the new bill “costs the State nothing and will concern tens of thousands of people in Belgium.”

Wednesday’s bill was approved by a wide majority, with only the Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V) party voting against.

It calls on the Minister of Home Affairs to issue a list of documents on which there is no need to mention divorce or widowhood. Where it is not strictly necessary, any such mention will only appear at the request of the person concerned.

However, the content of registers will remain unchanged.

Jason Bennett

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