1. Gambling at a home poker game is illegal in Belgium
The Belgian laws restricting games of chance mean that prohibitions apply to commercial contests, sweepstakes, lotteries, and even private poker games. These games require a license from the Kansspelcommissie or no-one wins any financial gain. A law from 1851 gives the Belgian National Lottery a monopoly on all lottery and scratch card games.
2. No night-time police raids
A Belgian law prohibits police raids for eight hours each night – between 9pm and 5am – unless in specific circumstances. Some media sources claim this 1969 Belgian statute is what led to the escape of one of the Paris bombers living in Belgium; Belgian authorities had to wait until the morning to conduct a raid. This law initially banned night police raids on private homes as a civilian consideration to safeguard family privacy – but a Belgian law that recent terrorism events have shown needs an urgent review.
3. You can drive straight into oncoming traffic
A driver who wants to turn into a road typically has right of way unless otherwise indicated. This means that if you’re driving on a highway and a car approaches from a small country road to your right, you must slow down and let them in. There were talks in recent years, however, about abolishing this rule. For cyclists, in certain one-way streets, they can ride in both directions if indicated by a traffic sign, even when car traffic is only one-way.
4. The Belgian flag is unconstitutional by law
Today’s Belgian tricolor flag of black, yellow, and red contradicts the Belgian Constitution. The Constitution states the ‘Belgian Nation adopts red, yellow and black for its colors’. Belgium’s colors are based on the coat of arms of the Duchy of Brabant: a golden lion with a red tongue and claws on a black field.
The original Belgian flag did indeed go through a few shuffles after the Belgian revolution of 1830, starting out as red over yellow over black, with horizontal lines rather than today’s vertical ones, but later was rotated with a changed color order for various reasons (one including to distance itself from the horizontal Dutch flag and align more with the vertical French one). What didn’t happen, however, was an update of the draft Constitution, leading to almost two centuries of a constitution contradiction.
5. No Dutch royals on the throne
The Dutch were banished forever from holding public authority in Belgium. A decree in 1830 debarred members of the House of Orange-Nassau (the Dutch royal family). Implemented after the rule of Dutch King Willem I between 1815 and 1830, some say the Belgian revolutionaries found Willem’s rule less than satisfactory. As such, the law bans the Dutch royal family from holding the throne, any position in the public sector, or standing for elections in Belgium. As the law has constitutional status, abolishing it is a difficult process.