Brussels to be Rainbow City in pride month May as The Belgian Pride remains silent on any events

Brussels’ Grande Place in rainbow colours.

What about the Belgian Pride in Brussels in May 2021? Organizer The Belgian Pride (with article) remains tight-lipped on the subject. But it is mobilising businesses, corporations, non-governmental organisations, institutions et al. to fly the rainbow flag in May. That project is called RainbowCity.Brussels.

The .Brussels top-level domain (TLD) is used by the Brussels-Capital Region for all its initiatives. 

“Every year in May, during the Pride period, Brussels is immersed in rainbow colours thanks to the work of the RainbowCity.Brussels project. The several initiatives that make up this project help spread the message of diversity, inclusion, and solidarity”, is stated on Pride.be

“Brussels will be dressed in rainbow colours to encourage:

  • Companies and building managers to partake by adjusting/installing lighting in rainbow colours.
  • Brussels residents to radiate Pride by distributing flags and motivating them to use this flag during the Pride period.
  • Brussels’ store owners who are eager to decorate their shop windows in the Pride theme.
  • Authorities to make adjustments in the public space (rainbow pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, public lighting, etc.).
  • Projects to make rainbow colours visible in the streets and in prominent locations in Brussels (temporary lighting installations, stickers, canvases, etc.).”

So, the purpose is to have Brussels covered in rainbow colours in the form of flags and lights. That’s nice and visible and covid secure. 

Pride events

Is The Belgian Pride planning any events at all? Obviously 2021 is not faring better than 2020 COVID-19-wise, but there’s more knowledge.

As early as December 2020 Antwerp Pride announced it would not hold a pride parade. 

“Together with everyone, we hope that the summer of 2021 will be better than the summer of last year. But there is still too little guarantee that we will be able to celebrate Pride at full speed this summer”, said Antwerp Pride chairman Bart Abeel

“Our organisation is fully supported by volunteers and organizing a big Pride takes time. We have to start now, but we do not yet know whether we will be able to bring 100,000 people together in August. We also have very loyal sponsors, whom we are very grateful, but it is also difficult for them to make forecasts for the coming months.”

And Brussels? No word. Not even a date. No planned events on Facebook

Usually Belgian Pride culminates in the parade and its afterparties on the weekens fter the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). But nothing has been communicated. And today is the 27th of March. Les than two months to go.

We only know pride month as a theme world be from the 1st or the 3rd of May until the 22nd. 

Brussels’ City Hall in rainbow colours.

#WeCare

Speaking of theme, the theme remains the same as last year: #WeCare. Unoriginal, but topical. A focus on well-being and mental, physical and social health.

“A healthy mind in a healthy body. For the LGBTI+ community, this is a theme that still requires a lot of effort. In recent decades, the rights of LGBTI+ people have been greatly improved. However, there is still a great need for a more inclusive society and assistance”, Pride.be states. 

“Well-being does not only mean being physically healthy, it also takes into account the psychological and social aspects of health.”

“To improve the physical and mental health of LGBTI+ people, it is necessary to adopt a global approach: 

  • We advocate for a society that integrates sexual diversity and gender diversity and the many other characteristics that determine diversity among LGBTI+ people. An inclusive society breaks apart gender and sexuality norms and seeks to eliminate the root causes of bad well-being.
  • We want the wellness and health sector to provide inclusive, accessible help and support with social, psychological, and medical impacts. Beyond more inclusive assistance, the current offers need to be developed for specific target groups in order to meet the needs and experiences of all LGBTI+ people. 
  • Within our own LGBTI+ movement, we are taking initiatives to strengthen people’s well-being by building positive connections between us and by offering them uplifting opportunities and resilience. 

“In this context, we need to pay attention to three aspects – physical, mental and social well-being (and the mutual influence of these aspects on each other) – as well as offering an approach that uplifts people. It is not only about not having or overcoming depression, fear, negative feelings, etc…” 

“The goal is to feel well, in order to be able to realize one’s potential in all aspects of life and to be able to contribute to society (human fulfillment).”

Context

Over the past forty years, acceptance has increased and the rights of LGBTI+, transgender and intersex people have considerably improved in Belgium. However, the well-being of LGBTI+ people has not fully followed this trend.

“Mental health does not seem to be showing much improvement. Studies show that LGBTI+ people still have a much higher risk of suffering from mental problems and a much higher risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts.”

“Physical health also poses many challenges. Lesbians, for example, are at higher risk of breast and cervical cancer. For intersex people, there are still unnecessary medical interventions that have the potential to cause trauma and to have physical consequences. For men who (also) have sex with men, HIV prevalence is higher as well as the risk of substance use and sexual compulsion, whether they are related to mental health problems or not. Transgender people who are active as sex workers also have a higher risk of contracting HIV and sexually transmitted infections.”

“Physical and mental health are often linked. For example, physical health problems can lead be detrimental to mental well-being, and vice versa.”

“Cum as you are”.

Çavaria

Çavaria is the main professional and subsidized NGO working on sexuality, gender and onder LGBTQI+ issues. 

Along with Arc-en-Ciel Wallonie in Wallonia and RainbowHouse Brussels in Brussels, it has specific demands. 

These are:

  • Carry out or fund quantitative and qualitative research focused on LGBTI+ people’s well-being and on suicide prevention and improved care for the well-being of LGBTI+ people. Ensure that intersectionality is always taken into account and that research is done on a regular basis to follow the evolutions.
  • Develop an interfederal plan on a preventive approach to improve the well-being of LGBTI+ people. This plan focuses on inclusion in different areas of the society, such as work, sport, leisure activities, school, health centers, etc.
  • Introduce the option for non-binary people to check a third option or a blanco option. Eventually abolish any sex registration.
  • Ensure that LGBTI+ issues are integrated into the social assistance and care sectors, so that the needs of LGBTI+ people are automatically taken into account. LGBTI+ issues should also receive sufficient attention in training courses for these sectors.
  • Supervise the implementation of the suicide prevention policy, in which LGBTI+ people are recognized as being a group at explicit risk, for example in mental health care. Special attention should be paid to young lesbians and bisexuals and to transgender people, who themselves are at an even higher risk.
  • Provide structural support to initiatives focused on target groups, such as Lumi.
  • Take concrete measures and provide structural subventions for LGBTI+ suicide prevention projects.
  • Continue to support medical treatments, such as hormonotherapy or surgical procedures, and to make them more accessible. Recognise surgical procedures as reconstructive, and not as plastic surgery, and to include them in the social security reimbursement system.
  • Maintain and broaden psychosocial assistance and support to those who need it.

Rainbow Cities Network

The Brussels-Capital Region is part of the Rainbow Cities Network

“Humanity is diverse, complex, and colorful. Our identity, culture, and expressions are intricately entwined into our being. This diversity should be a cause of pride and love and not a reason to hide or be scared”, the Network introduces itself

“LGBTI around the world still face stigma, discrimination, exclusion, and in extreme cases violence. Rainbow Cities Network and its member cities work to guarantee a person’s sexual rights with the help of innovative public policies in their respective cities enhancing the LGBTI people to enjoy their sexual identity and exercise control over their own bodies.”

The network was founded by the cities of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Barcelona in Spain, Cologne in Germany, and Turin in Italy as an informal network.

In 2012 Berlin (Germany), Bologna (Italy), Geneva (Switzerland), Munich (Germany), Madrid (Spain), Vienna (Austria), and Zurich (Switserland) joined.

In 2014 Bruges (Belgium), Brussels (Belgium), Esch-sur-Alzete (Luxembourg), Ghent (Belgium), Hamburg (Germany), Leuven (Belgium), and Mexico City (Mexico) followed suit. 

The network is still growing. 

“The main goal of the Brussel-Capital Region’s LGBTQI+ policy is to expand equal opportunities for lesbians, gays, trans*, queer and intersex persons who live in our  region. This goal is twofold:  to work with civil society and raise awareness for LGBTQI+ issues, and  to offer support for LGBTQI+ citizens facing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation,  gender identity / expression, and sex characteristics”, Brussels introduces itself.

The region focuses on

  • Developing awareness-raising projects on the topics of LGBTQI+-phobia
  • Acting as a dynamic partner in the Equalcities project, working on the topic of safe spaces for LGBTQI+ persons with a migrant background
  • Strengthening the fight against LGBTQI+-phobic incidents (hate speech, discrimination and violence) and under-reporting.
  • Providing training courses on LGBTQI+ issues for the Brussels police departments, in collaboration with the RainbowHouse.
  • Providing financial support for projects developed by Brussels LGBTQI+ organizations
  • Acting as an inclusive employer of LGBTQI+ staff.

Brussels and Brussels

The Brussels-Capital Region was created on the territory of the 19 communes by the Special Act of 12 January 1989

These 19 communes are: Anderlecht, Auderghem / Oudergem, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe / Sint-Agatha-Berchem, the City of Brussels, Etterbeek, Evere, Forest / Vorst, Ganshoren, Ixelles / Elsene, Koekelberg, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean / Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Saint-Gilles / Sint-Gillis, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode / Sint-Joost-ten-Node, Schaerbeek / Schaarbeek, Uccle / Ukkel, Watermael-Boitsfort / Watermaal-Bosvoorde, Woluwé-Saint-Lambert / Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Woluwé-Saint-Pierre / Sint-Pieters-Woluwe

Flag of the Brussels-Capital Region. Wikipedia.

The City of Brussels is part of the region. The City of Brussels is a municipality consisting of the central historic town and certain additional areas within the greater Brussels-Capital Region, namely Haren, Laeken / Laken with the Royal Palace of Laeken, and Neder-Over-Heembeek to the north, as well as Avenue Louise / Louizalaan and the Bois de la Cambre / Ter Kamerenbos park to the south. 

Flag of the City of Brussels. Wikipedia.

Conclusion?

The Belgian Pride has been active on social media regarding the COVID-19 crisis, the Steenstraat sex party incident and with the Beveren murder. But it is silent on its core business. 

Sources: Pride.be, Rainbow Cities Network, Be.Brussels, Wikipedia.
Images from the 2019 pride festivities. 

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