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Days numbered for father-only surnames

10:15 26/02/2014

The patriarchal tradition of giving children the surname of the father appears to be coming to an end in Belgium. A new government bill proposed by the Justice Commission in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives is introducing changes that will alter how children are named at birth.

No longer will parents be obliged to give the father’s surname as the new rules will allow a choice of either the mother’s or father’s, or both. If a preference is not given, the child will automatically be given both by default.

The naming rules have been an issue for some time with women’s groups taking action and even the European Commission getting involved in a 2012 court case. The Commission stated that the father-only surname hindered children's right to free movement within the EU, especially when parents originated from different member states. However, due to pressure from conservative groups, if both surnames are used the father’s will precede the mother’s.

A vote should happen in the coming weeks, and it is expected that the changes will pass. 

Written by Andrew King



They could have simply said they were copying the Spanish naming convention of Father-Mother name.

Feb 26, 2014 14:18