Switzerland has voted to change its penal code to make homophobia and transphobia as illegal as racism.
The National Council voted 118 to 60 to make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on sexual or gender identity.
Anyone found guilty of transphobia or homophobia could be thrown in jail for up to three years.
‘Victory,’ wrote national councillor Mathias Reynard on Twitter.
The socialist national councillor spearheaded the change to the European country’s laws. Reynard had fought for more than five years to change the laws.
‘Homophobia is not an opinion,’ he said.
‘It’s a crime. One in five homosexuals attempted suicide, half before the age of 20. This victory sends a strong signal. I have already received hundreds of reactions’.
Swiss LGBTI groups welcomed the vote.
‘The decision of the day is an important step. It will likely bring Switzerland back to the rankings of the International Association of LGBTI People, where our country currently ranks 22nd behind Estonia and Hungary,’ Rene Schegg, secretary general of Pink Cross told Le Temps.
Switzerland drops in LGBTI rankings
Reynard said he will now push to make marriage equality legal in Switzerland. The country has allowed registered same-sex civil partnerships since 2007.
Same-sex couples still don’t have equal rights when it comes to tax, fertility, welfare and adoption.
Switzerland has recently dropped in European rankings when it comes to LGBTI rights. In 2017, it fell three places on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s (ILGA) annual Rainbow Index.