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.

Someone can be homosexual without wanting to have sex or a relationship with someone of the same sex.

2 men being intimate with each other

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, some men may have sex with men, but do not 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.

Marriage

People of the same sex can have a relationship. In Belgium, they can also marry or have a registered partnership.

2 men getting married in a town hall

Parenthood

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.

Lesbian couples can also have children through fertility treatment with semen from a donor.

Lesbian women with their children

More information or help needed?

Holebifoon
Free telephone number for an answer to all questions regarding homosexuality and transgender
0800 99 533
Leonardo International LGBT
English speaking group for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders
016 60 12 63
Merhaba
Organisation for homosexual and transgender people from the Middle-East, Maghreb and Turkey
0487 55 69 38 (MerhabaPhone)
Omnya
Support to homosexual people from the Middle East and North Africa
0470 66 63 80, 0488 22 71 71
Rainbows United
Gatherings for homosexual, gay, lesbian and transgender asylum seekers
02 503 59 90
Shouf Shouf
Multicultural organisation for homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals
0483 41 60 84
True Colours Café
Gatherings for homosexual people from different nationalities
0471 25 21 97
Why Me
Organization for homosexual and transgender people from Sub-Sahara Africa
0493 98 09 62
Unia - Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities
For questions regarding discrimination or to report a case of discrimination
0800 12 800 (free) (Monday and Friday 9-12h, Tuesday and Wednesday 9-17h)
Casa Rosa
Place where homosexuals and transgenders and their friends go to receive information and meet
09 269 28 12
Het Roze Huis - çavaria Antwerpen
Place where homosexuals and transgenders and their friends go to receive information and meet
03 288 00 84
Meldpunt Discriminatie - Unia
Local service of the Interfederal Centre for Equal Opportunities - To report a case of discrimination. Find a Meldpunt in your neighbourhood:
Holebihuis Vlaams-Brabant
Place where homosexuals and transgenders and their friends go to receive information and meet
016 60 12 63
Rainbowhouse
Place where homosexuals and transgenders and their friends go to receive information and meet
02 503 59 90
Regenbooghuis Limburg
Place where homosexuals and transgenders and their friends go to receive information and meet
0471 25 21 97
Transgender Info point
Information and answers to questions about transgenderism and transexuality. You can find other healthcare professionals who work in these areas on the website below.
0800 96 316 (free-phone) (Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
Fertiliteitscentrum
Centre for fertility treatment. Find a centre in your neighbourhood:
More health professionals

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