Global LGBT Rights LGBTQ

Switzerland Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage in a National Referendum

Swiss voters approved a law that allows same-sex couples to marry in a nationwide referendum Sunday. Switzerland is one of the last countries in Western Europe to give full marriage rights to LGBTQ couples.

Last year, the Swiss government amended marriage laws to extend full marriage rights to LGBTQ couples. However, those who opposed the new amendment forced a referendum to challenge the law and curtail marriage rights.

In the referendum Sunday, 64.1 percent of people voted to approve the law and legalize same-sex marriage in Switzerland, showing overwhelming support for same-sex marriage. All 26 of Switzerland’s cantons, or states, had a majority vote in favor of approving the marriage law.

The amended marriage law, called “Marriage for All” not only allows couples of the same gender to get married but also allows same-sex couples to adopt children and use sperm banks to start their families. Prior to the law, lesbian couples could not use sperm donation to have children.

“With this, all couples in the future will be treated equally before the law: all can enter into a civil marriage, with the same rights and obligations,” wrote Switzerland’s Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter on Twitter.

Justice Minister Keller-Sutter also said that the law would likely not be implemented until July 1 of 2022 due to legislative procedures.

Switzerland is a historically conservative country, only granting women the right to vote in 1971. It is one of the last countries in Western Europe to extend full legal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Italy is now the only country in Western Europe where same-sex marriage is still illegal.

“This is a historic day for us and for Switzerland, this a great step forward, something we have been waiting for for years,” said Laura Russo, co-president of the Geneva Federation of LGBT Associations. “This initiative was begun in 2013; we had to wait eight years for the vote to happen—and here, this is a big ‘Yes.’”

Sources: New York Times 9/26/21; NBC News 9/25/21; NPR 9/26/21

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