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View Full Version : Belgium could rule to give all newborn babies both parents' surnames



Maciamo
31-03-06, 22:19
Yet an interesting legal decision in Belgium :

Expatica : Child could soon carry mother's surname (http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=24&story_id=28905)


Children should be given in future a double surname, gaining the father's and the mother's last name, federal State Secretary for the Family Gisèle Mandaila said.
...
Mandaila said making the father's name the first part of the child's surname will establish the father's link to the child and stress the responsibility he holds in raising the child.

However, to not reduce the mother's role to simply one in which she gives birth, Mandaila thinks her surname should be added to the child's surname also.


I am not sure whether that means all children will automatically have 2 surnames, or whether they can have both if the parents want - or choose either ot both once they turn 18. Currently, I think it is already possible to have both parents surnames if one wants, although it is fairly rare (unlike in Spain or Portugal, where it is relatively common).

Having a double surname is a good idea. Like mention in the article, it gives more equality between men and women. I have also thought that automatically having one's father's name was somewhat old-fashioned and illogical.

Another reason would be to avoid confusing two people with identical first and last names. But Belgium, like France, Germany or the Netherlands, does not lack of variety in family names (unlike Japan or China where names are limited by official characters, or Scandinavia where most surnames are firstnames + son/sen). So what's the point ?

What is more, I wonder how that will go after a few generations. Does that mean that grandchildren end up with 4 surnames, great-grandchildren with 8, etc. ? Or would they only keep the first surname of each parent ? Would they be able to choose ? This could confuse things seriously. Imagine a family of 4 children, if one child chooses the father's first surname + the mother first surname, another the father's second surname + the mother first surname, etc., therefore ending up having each a different combination of surnames !

Add to this noble families which often already have numerous surnames (I know people with up to 5 of them).

The question is, shouldn't people be free to elect whatever name they want to ? Should they wait to reach adulthood to do so ? It is legally possible in all developed countries, but only practically easily feasible in countries like the UK or the USA.

The problem is that people get used to their names in their childhood, and these names even shape their personality in some way. Changing one's name in adulthood is thus not an easy choice, even when one dislikes his/her name. Yet children lack maturity to choose a really suitable name. So should people change name as they grow up and become more mature and have a major change in their life ?

The Internet has allowed us to rename ourselves through nicknames and forum /chat/email usernames. Most don't think of one seriously. But some find a name that can really become like a new identity for them (I believe it is the case for me).

This brings me to the question : should we change identity/name in function of our environment ? Could we have a name for work, a name for the family and private circumstances, another for the Internet ? I believe many already do. Nicknames are common between relatives or friends.

So, after all, isn't our official name (like on our passport, ID card or driving licence), just another "username" for "official use" ? No wonder that they say the discussion on such a seemingly simple issue has waged at the Belgian parliament since 1978 !

bossel
01-04-06, 02:21
Does that mean that grandchildren end up with 4 surnames, great-grandchildren with 8, etc. ?
Ah, that would be funny. I wonder how they would put all those names on the new ID cards in credit card size.


It is legally possible in all developed countries, but only practically easily feasible in countries like the UK or the USA.
In Germany the legal possibilities to change your name are veeeery limited. Not to mention the discouraging high cost to do so.


So should people change name as they grow up and become more mature and have a major change in their life ?
Another funny thing is that many people in the west ascribe parts of our individuality to our oh so individual names. Yet, at least in some countries, it's hardly possible to choose a name of your own.:okashii:


So, after all, isn't our official name (like on our passport, ID card or driving licence), just another "username" for "official use" ?
It probably is. But for the really official use we also have numbers.

Maciamo
01-04-06, 09:16
Ah, that would be funny. I wonder how they would put all those names on the new ID cards in credit card size.

Yes, I don't know how some people with 7 given names and 4 surnames do ! Should ask those I know. AFAIK, given names can be reduced to initials.


In Germany the legal possibilities to change your name are veeeery limited. Not to mention the discouraging high cost to do so.

Same in the Benelux and France, and most of (Western) continental Europe, I believe.


It probably is. But for the really official use we also have numbers.

Maybe we should only keep those national identifictaion numbers for official use and be called whatever we want. This way, important documents (ID cards, diplomas, bank registration, proof of property, etc.) could just have that number instead of the name, so that one doesn't need to change all their documents once they change their name. This is the biggest deterrent in countries where changing name is easy.

bossel
02-04-06, 04:32
Maybe we should only keep those national identifictaion numbers for official use and be called whatever we want. This way, important documents (ID cards, diplomas, bank registration, proof of property, etc.) could just have that number instead of the name, so that one doesn't need to change all their documents once they change their name.
Would be reasonable, but how many people are reasonable? There would be a huge outcry against this alleged dehumanisation of society. Although you already are a number (or a name number combination, as in name-birthdate) for most governmental & even business affairs. Problem is that you have a special no. for every single service. One commonly accepted no. would definitely simplify life.

Minty
05-04-06, 23:27
In France it is not possible to change your name unless you have a surname or name that is very difficult for locals to pronounce ( in the case of immigrants) or your surnames imply something people might be able to make fun of you, e.g. Hitler (not offence to the Germans).

In Australia however it is possible to change your name, but you need to pay for each legal documents to be changed and thatfs costly.

I donft know whether this double surnames approach is such a good idea, is there that much point to have that many names?:?