Flemish parliament to apologise for forced adoptions

Summary

The Flemish parliament has unanimously approved a resolution to apologise to the victims involved in forced adoptions that took place in the 1950s to the 1980s

Public ceremony

Flemish parliament this week unanimously approved a resolution to offer an official government apology to the victims of forced adoptions that took place between the 1950s and the 1980s. The resolution also calls for the creation of a Flemish lineage centre and a DNA database to help identify children adopted under the system.

During the period, many women, particularly the poor and the unmarried, were forced to give up their babies for adoption against their will by staff in homes and other institutions, often those with close links to the Catholic Church. Sometimes the mothers, many of whom were teenagers, were told that their babies had died.

In January this year the conference of bishops in Belgium issued a statement apologising for the role of the church and called for an independent enquiry. The body also promised to work closely with family organisation Kind & Gezin to help trace the children who were adopted under the scheme.

The Flemish parliament organised a series of hearings, and an expert panel produced a report in May that included among its recommendations the lineage centre and DNA database. The panel also recommended the government apologise for acting much too late in reaction to revelations.

The parliament will now prepare a letter for victims, and apologise formally at a public ceremony later in the year. 

Government of Flanders

Belgium is a federal state with several regional governments. The northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders is governed by the Flemish government, which was created when the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community joined forces in 1980. A minister-president presides over the government of Flanders, and Brussels is the capital city.
Competences - The government of Flanders is responsible for the economy, foreign trade, health care, energy, housing, agriculture, environmental concerns, public works and transport, employment policy, culture, education and science and innovation. Flanders also has the power to sign international treaties in these competencies.
Sole legislator - The powers of the Flemish government and of the federal government do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy area. Flemish laws are called decrees. Decrees apply in co-ordination with federal laws.
Official holiday - 11 July is the official holiday of the Flemish Community, in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Kortrijk on 11 July 1302, when Flemings defeated the army of the French king. Flanders’ official anthem is “De Vlaamse Leeuw” (The Flemish Lion).
6

million people live in the Flemish Region.

5

provinces constitute the Flemish Region: West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.

5

number of years for which the Flemish Parliament is elected. Its elections coincide with those of the European Parliament.