The law, approved in the referendum, would allow same-sex couples to use sperm banks and adopt children for the first time.
ZURICH – Voters in Switzerland on Sunday decided to legalize same-sex marriage, making the country one of the last in Western Europe to do so.
In addition to opening up the option of marriage to all couples, an amendment to Switzerland’s marriage law that was put up in a referendum to voters, and approved, gives same-sex couples access to sperm banks and same-sex couples. allows the child to be adopted.
Marriage laws were amended by the federal government and approved by parliament last year to provide equal rights to all couples. But opponents seeking to limit marriage between one man and one woman gathered enough signatures for a referendum.
Local news media polls predicted widespread acceptance for same-sex marriage in Switzerland, but they also showed the opposition gained some last-minute momentum after an intense advertising campaign. 64.1 percent of voters accepted the law change and enjoyed strong support in both urban and rural areas.
The result has been seen as a milestone for the LGBTQ community in the Alpine nation, which has long lagged behind other Western European countries on gender issues.
Since 2007, same-sex couples in Switzerland have been able to enter into a civil partnership, which confers certain legal rights but does not equal marriage. The only country in Western Europe that no longer allows marriage between same-sex couples is Italy; However, it allows civil unions.
The Swiss politician, Katherine Burtsky, who campaigned strongly in favor of same-sex marriage, described the result as “a milestone” for Switzerland. She said the result meant that the existing marriage law could be applied to all.
But the process has highlighted how deeply conservative views on gender issues are in Switzerland, which did not give women the right to vote until 1971 and allowed wives to work outside the home from their husbands until 1985. was needed.
Under the amended law, same-sex couples would now be able to have a civil marriage and would be given broadly the same institutional and legal rights as heterosexual couples. This includes simplified naturalization for foreign partners, as well as access to fertility treatments and the ability to adopt children.
Until now, couples in same-sex partnerships could not use Swiss sperm banks. They were also forbidden from adopting children, even though unmarried people were allowed to do so.
“This is clearly discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Maria von Kennel, who is chair of the committee leading the “Yes” campaign and herself in a same-sex partnership with two children.
He said, ‘Everyone should be treated equally.
Swiss LGBTQ organizations estimate that 30,000 children are currently being raised by same-sex parents in Switzerland, but legal barriers in the country mean that many of those couples have to go abroad to start their own families. have to go.
Protesters focused their campaigns on the right of same-sex couples to have children, using images of crying babies on posters in towns and cities in Switzerland.
Daniel Frischnecht, one of the leaders of the opposition to the proposed legal change, said supporters of the “No” campaign opposed the change in marriage laws because they felt it undermined traditional families. “We are convinced that for children to grow up in the best possible way, they need a father and a mother,” he said.
For opponents, the vote was about more than just gay marriage and Mr Frischnecht compared its importance to Swiss society to the bursting of the dam. “This will continue,” he said, referring to legalizing additional options for couples to have children, such as surrogacy or using donor eggs. “Whatever is left, we will save it,” he said.
Despite the change in marriage law, Ms von Kennel said there were still some important points that were not taken into account, such as whether both parents would be entitled to parental leave, including in situations where the couple would receive fertility assistance or undergo fertility treatment abroad
He added that there is also a lot of work to be done to increase the rights and social acceptance of LGBTQ people in Switzerland. This includes creating a safe learning environment for LGBTQ youth and banning conversion therapy, Ms von Kennel said.
Also on Sunday, 64.9 percent of voters rejected a popular initiative that would have redistributed wealth in Switzerland and taxed investment income more heavily than employment income.
The initiative was opposed by the government, which said it would take away the incentive to save the Swiss people and it would reduce Switzerland’s attractiveness as a place for businesses.