Some people have romantic and/or sexual feelings for people of the same sex. Both men and women can be homosexual. Men who feel attracted to other men are called homosexual or gay; women who feel attracted to other women are called homosexual or lesbian. Some people feel attracted to both men and women. They are called bisexuals.
Some men only have homosexual feelings during a certain period of their lives.
Everyone chooses whether to call himself/herself homosexual, lesbian or bisexual. For instance, men may have sex with men, but call themselves homosexual.
Why are people homosexual?
It is not known why people feel attracted to one sex or the other, or to both sexes. However, we do know that:
- being homosexual is not a choice. It comes naturally.
- homosexuality occurs in all countries and cultures. In Europe, discrimination against homosexuals is forbidden by law. It is forbidden by law to treat people differently and to exclude or place limitations on people because of their homosexuality.
It is unclear whether homosexuality is hereditary. The role played by a person’s upbringing is also not precisely known.
Telling others that you are homosexual
Many men and women keep their feelings private. Others tell their family and friends that they are homosexual or bisexual and live their homosexuality openly.
Telling someone that you are homosexual or bisexual is often not easy and takes a lot of courage. Homosexual and bisexual men and women often need a lot of time to accept that they are attracted to people of the same sex.
It can be a relief to tell other people. You do not have to hide any longer. First talk to people who you think will accept you as you are. Be aware that reactions at first will not always be positive.
You do not have to tell other people you are homosexual. If you believe it is not safe to tell others, then you do not have to.
Meeting other homosexuals
There are specific organisations and meeting places where you can get to know other homosexuals.
Homosexuality and the law
In Europe, discrimination because of sexual orientation is forbidden by law. It is forbidden by law to treat people differently and to exclude or place limitations on them because of a characteristic that is protected in law. Homosexuality or changing sex are protected characteristics. For instance, it is forbidden to discriminate in job applications, at work, in education and when renting a house.
In Belgium, 2 men or 2 women can together be parents of a child. They can adopt a child. Adoption means that you become the legal parent of a child who is not your biological child. You do not need to be married to adopt a child. You can also adopt a child if you are living together.