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Bilingual Rhode-Saint-Genèse logo sparks controversy

22:03 06/05/2024

The Brussels suburb of Rhode-Saint-Genèse has been required by law to withdraw its official logo after accusations of circumventing the legislation on the use of languages.

The logo featured the Dutch-language name Sint-Genesius-Rode in dark blue - the municipality's official name as it is located in Flanders - and also French-language name Rhode-Saint-Genèse in green.

Rhode-Saint-Genèse is one of six officially Dutch-speaking municipalities in Flemish Brabant which are known as "facility communes", where residents can choose to conduct their business with the local authorities in French due to the high number of French-speakers living there.

A local resident complained that the law stipulates that the Dutch language should take priority.

“A logo that includes the Dutch- and French-speaking names of the municipality implies equality between these languages,” Flemish Brabant governor Jan Spooren explained in a letter.

“But the administrative law on languages requires the priority of Dutch in Rhode-Saint-Genèse, which is not sufficiently clear here.”

The municipality disagreed with the governor and the resident who complained, saying that the difference in colour between the two names is clear and the Dutch name has priority because it appears at the top of the logo.

“The logo was approved by the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking aldermen and local councillors,” argued Mayor Pierre Rolin.

"This is not a community issue, but simply a municipal logo. We regret this decision."

The municipality has referred the matter to the Council of State.

Written by Helen Lyons