Hundreds of Belgian couples braved freezing conditions in the Flemish town of St Niklaas last night for a wedding with a difference. The symbolic ceremony was in response to a snub of deputy mayor Wouter Van Bellingen. Last month, three couples refused to let him marry them. The Rwandan-born councillor claims the decision was a result of racism.
Van Bellingen became the first black councillor in the northern Flanders region after last October’s election.
The 34-year-old, who represents a moderate nationalist party, believes his election is symbolic of growing opposition to racism in a city where the anti-immigration party Vlaams Belang got 26 percent of the vote.
Groom Geere Brokken said he wanted to make a stand: “We were indignant that people refused to marry because of someone’s skin colour, you cannot judge people, you just can’t, that’s why we want to make a statement against this,” he said.
The day’s events were timed to coincide with the International Day against Racism.