He made history last October when he became Flanders’ first-ever deputy Mayor and registrar of African origin. But now Wouter van Bellingen has found at least a few of the people of Sint Niklaas, between Antwerp and Ghent, would rather have a white wedding.
Three couples have refused to be married with him officiating because of the colour of his skin. It is an attitude Mayor Freddy Willockx has denounced as “a real example of fundamental racism.” “I’ve had a lot of phone calls and e-mails supporting me, and that’s encouraged me to continue my work,” said Van Bellingen.
The Mayor has refused to move him to another job. “Either these people don’t get married, or they move somewhere else, or they accept me as registrar,” said Van Bellingen. He is keen to stress that most people seem happy with his work, and that he feels comfortable in his position.