Gay couples in Belgium are celebrating a “memorable day” as adoption rights were narrowly implemented in law yesterday.

Senators in the country’s upper house backed the proposal by a vote of 34 to 33 with two abstentions, to become the fifth member of the European Union to allow same-sex couples equal rights in adoption, with the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Previously only straight couples or single people were allowed to adopt in Belgium.

Mieke Stessens from the Belgian Federation of Gays said: “”It is a memorable day for the children of gays. Finally they earn the right of a worthy legal link with both their parents.”