Belgium: 'End to ban' on giving children maiden names

A mother holds a baby over a floor map of Europe
Image caption Naming rules vary between different countries

Mothers in Belgium can't pass on their maiden names to children, it turns out.

Currently, Belgian children automatically take their father's family name. But that's about to change, thanks to a plan approved by the country's cabinet, reports news site De Redactie. If approved by parliament, it will allow parents to pass on either of their surnames, or give their children double-barrelled names in whichever order they choose. "Freedom is an important value in our society... it really ought to be possible to give the mum's name or, most importantly, a double name," Justice Minister Annemie Turtelboom told the site's owner VRT TV.

Despite hailing the move, Turtelboom reportedly admits she's "glad" not to have passed on her name to her children. That's apparently because she doesn't want them burdened by her political position. There are no restrictions on names that can be given to children in the UK, except where they might be deemed offensive. However, many countries - notably Iceland and Germany - regulate first names.

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