Transgender people still face discrimination in Belgium, claims activist

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By Christopher Pitchers  & Jack Parrock
Transgender people still face discrimination in Belgium, claims activist
Copyright  Alik Keplicz/AP

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen denounced discrimination of the LGBTI community last week, criticising Poland for their LGBTI-free zones.

"Being yourself is not your ideology, it is your identity and no one can ever take it away. So I want to be crystal clear, LGBTQI-free zones are humanity free zones," von der Leyen said during her flagship State of the Union speech.

According to a major study last year, 43 per cent of the LGBT community in Europe said they have faced similar discrimination.

A petition with over a quarter of a million signatures was handed to the EU equality commissioner calling for Europe to act to protect rights in Poland, which is at the centre of a row over fundamental rights in the European Union.

One transgender man, Aiden de Prins, who is living in the eastern Belgian city of Hasselt, said that even in a politically progressive country like Belgium, trans people still face serious discrimination.

"I still hear a lot of people are losing their jobs, or can't rent a home, or can't buy a home if the landlord or the boss gets to know they're trans. And I know yeah we have the law in Belgium that you can't discriminate people, but they will never say literally, we didn't pick you because of that reason," de Prins told Euronews.

Since transitioning seven years ago, Aiden's thrown himself into supporting other trans people and educating the community. He said that he stands in solidarity with LGBTI people in Poland.

In Hasselt, Belgium, the LGBTI community organisations insist that the fight to protect rights must continue. Leopold Lindelauff is the chairperson of the Limburg Rainbow House. He said that the rights that LGBTI people have now are not forever.

"It's possible that they can change. So now I don't see a development like in Poland happening in Belgium, but I cannot assure that it never will happen," Lindelauff said.

People like Aiden want Europe to speak up, but the EU has limited competencies regarding rights recognition and protection in member states.