Sexual or gender-based offending

Verified 01 April 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

Are you a victim of sexist or sexual speech? This may be a gender or sexual offense for which you can file a complaint. Indeed, sexist or sexual offending is punishable by law. Since 1er april 2023, aggravated gender or sexual offending is no longer considered a contraventionbut as a offense.


Gender-based or sexual outrage is the imposition of a sexual or gender-based statement or behavior that violates a person's dignity or exposes a person to an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation.

Example :

Offensive comments about female gender (sexist outrage)

Sexual offers to a stranger (sexual outrage)

Applicable penalty

Sexist offending is punishable by a fine of €1,500.


Aggravated sexual or gender-based outrage is any speech or conduct of a sexual or gender nature directed at a person. Such speech or conduct must violate dignity because of its degrading or humiliating nature, or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation, and must be committed in any of the following circumstances:

  • Contempt by a person who abuses the authority conferred on him by his duties
  • Offense against a minor
  • Offense against a person whose particular vulnerability due to his age, illness, disability, physical or mental disability or pregnancy is apparent or known to the perpetrator
  • Offense against a person who is particularly vulnerable because of his apparent or known dependence on the author, a vulnerability caused by the precariousness of his economic or social situation
  • Offense committed by several persons acting as perpetrator or accomplice
  • Offense committed in a vehicle used for the collective transport of passengers or for private public transport or in a place intended for access to a means of collective transport of passengers
  • Contempt on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity, real or perceived, of the victim
  • Contempt committed by a person who has already been convicted of the offense of sexual and gender-based contempt and who commits the same offense while being a repeat offender

Example :

Offensive remarks about gender (female or male) directed at a person on the street or in transportation (aggravated sexist outrage)

Sexual offers to strangers on the street or in transit (aggravated sexual insult)

Applicable penalty

Aggravated gender or sexual outrage is offense. He shall be punished by a fine of €3750.

The fine may be accompanied by additional penalties for following a traineeship (e.g. citizenship) or work of general interest.

Contact the police or gendarmerie by telephone

In case of emergency, and only in this situation, it is possible to alert the police or gendarmerie by telephone call, or by SMS, if you are unable to speak.

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By telephone

In case of emergency, when a quick intervention is necessary, you can call the emergency police. Dial 17.

You can also contact the 112.

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You can't call

114 is the emergency call relay service if you are unable to speak on the phone (deaf, hard of hearing ...) or if it could put you in danger.

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Contacting the police or gendarmerie via instant messaging

An instant messenger (chat) allows you to chat with a police officer or a member of the gendarmerie. Chat history can be deleted from your computer, mobile phone or tablet at any time.

Report abuse or sexual or gender-based outrage

Several structures can provide you with support as a victim of a sexual offense.

The site Victims' Journey guides you through each step.

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You can also hire a lawyer if you want to take legal action.

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In the private sector

If you are a victim of sexual or gender-based contempt in your workplace, you can report the incident to staff representatives and the Social and Economic Committee (ESC).

You cannot be punished for having reported these facts, unless the report is based on imaginary facts.

In the public service

You can use the public service reporting system for violence, discrimination, psychological or sexual harassment and gender-based behavior. It provides for appropriate procedures for the collection of reports and for the guidance of the officer who claims to be a victim or witness.

The head of department must inform the staff member under his authority of the existence of the alert system, how it is used and the procedures it lays down.

The system must ensure the strict confidentiality of the information transmitted by the victim or witness during the processing of the alert.

You can file a complaint to have the perpetrator of the sexist or sexual outrage you have suffered prosecuted and a legal action taken against him.

On the spot

You must go to a police station or a gendarme brigade of your choice.

Who shall I contact

You may not be refused the receipt of the complaint.

The complaint is then forwarded to the public prosecutor by the police or gendarmerie.

By mail

You can file a complaint with the public prosecutor.

We need to send a free-form letter to court of law of the place of the offense or of the domicile of the offender.

Who shall I contact

The letter should specify the following:

  • Your marital status and full contact information (address and telephone number)
  • Detailed account of the facts, date and place of the offense
  • Name of the alleged perpetrator if known (otherwise, the complaint will be filed against X)
  • Names and addresses of any witnesses to the offense
  • Description and provisional or definitive estimate of the damage
  • Evidence: medical certificates, work stoppages, miscellaneous invoices, findings...
  • Willingness to take civil action

File a complaint with the public prosecutor

You can send your complaint by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt, by simple letter or by letter followed.

You can also file your complaint directly at the courthouse.

In any case, a receipt is given to you as soon as the Public Prosecutor's Office has registered your complaint.

If police or gendarmerie officers witness the facts, they can draw up a statement attesting to the reality of the offense.

Failing that, it is up to you as the complainant to prove the facts. All evidence collected by you will be reviewed by the court:

  • testimonies
  • sms captures, emails
  • recordings of conversations even without the author's knowledge....