Voters in Switzerland will vote on 28 February on whether married couples should be taxed the same as people in unregistered relationships but LGBTI rights advocates warn that the referendum is just a back door attempt by opponents of gay marriage to pass a Constitutional ban on marriage equality.
The Swiss Christian Democratic People’s Party put forward a civil initiative to end what they call ‘marriage inequality’ with the slogan, ‘For the couple and the family – against the marriage penalty.’
However rather than creating marriage equality to the Alpine nation it would define marriage in Switzerland’s Constitution as only being between a man and a woman.
If successful the referendum would add the following language to article 14 of the Constitution: ‘Marriage is the sustainable and regulated union between a man and a woman.’
‘From a fiscal point of view, marriage constitutes an economic community. It cannot be discriminated against other ways of living, in particular in terms of tax and social insurance.’
The Christian Democrats appear to be banking on married people putting their own economic interests before their support for the rights of LGBTI people in Switzerland.
A coalition of LGBTI rights groups, civil society groups and political parties have put out campaigns in French, German and Italian to warn Swiss voters of the consequences of a ‘Yes’ vote, while ILGA Europe are trying to raise awareness about the issue in the English speaking world.
‘If the popular initiative is accepted, the current political process towards marriage equality would stop here,’ ILGA Europe warn.
‘While same-sex couples can enter into a registered partnership in Switzerland, a negative outcome of the vote would simply block Swiss same-sex couples to benefit from the highest form of partnership recognition: marriage.’
Switzerland has been slower to embrace the equality of LGBTI people than many of its neighbors despite homosexuality being legal in some parts of the country since 1798, and nation wide since 1942.
However under Swiss law the majority of the citizens in a a majority of its cantons must vote in favor of the proposal before it can become law.