- ‘A big hurdle cleared’ as the Swiss move towards equal marriage.
Switzerland’s National Council has approved equal marriage this morning by an overwhelming majority.
The National Council is the lower house of the Swiss parliament, the National Assembly. And the issue will now have to go before the upper house, the Council of States. Moreover it may face a referendum.
However LGBT+ organizations say they are ‘delighted and relieved’ by the decision. It follows two decades of campaigning.
The National Council passed fully equal marriage by 132 votes to 52 votes with 13 abstentions. The bill guarantees full equality, including access to sperm donation and parenthood recognition.
A better future for children in rainbow families
Salome Zimmermann, president of the Marriage for All committee, said under the new law:
‘Children of same-sex couples would have the same rights as children of heterosexual couples.
‘Finally, it would no longer be necessary to go through absurd, long and expensive adoption procedures until the child has two parents and during which the child is completely without protection when the birth mother dies.’
Moreover, Maria von Känel from Marriage for All added:
‘Children from rainbow families grow up as normal and happy as children with opposite-sex parents. We are working to ensure that the Council of States also stands up for the protection of children in rainbow families.’
Will Switzerland have a referendum on marriage equality?
Switzerland has offered same-sex couples civil partnerships since January 2007. The partnerships offer similar, but not exactly equal, rights.
In particular, they do not cover joint adoption by same-sex couples or access to IVF for lesbians.
The bill will now proceed to the Council of States, the upper house of the Federal Assembly.
Success isn’t guaranteed. But National Councilor Kathrin Bertschy, who has advocated for marriage equality in parliament, is positive.
She said: ‘As parliamentarians, we have a duty to finally recognize the reality of same-sex families and to provide them with legal protection.
‘I am very happy with this positive decision by the National Council and I expect the Council of States to also vote in favor of real equality.’
The People’ Party (SVP) has mounted the main opposition to the change. However, it doesn’t have a majority in either house of parliament.
Despite this, LGBT+ campaigners may still have a battle on their hands.
Switzerland has a direct democracy. So if opponents gather 50,000 voter signatures in 100 days, they can challenge new laws via a referendum.
As things stand, the SVP hasn’t expressed whether it will ask for a referendum on the issue.
Most Swiss people back marriage equality
Meanwhile, Swiss people overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage.
LGBT+ campaign organization Pink Cross commissioned a survey in February this year on the issue. The independent gfs group found 81% support same-sex marriage with 63% saying they strongly support it.
That’s against only 18% opposing marriage equality with just 10% strongly opposed.
Moreover, a majority of voters for all major parties are in favor. This includes an incredible 96% of Greens. But even among the more socially conservative SVP voters, 67% back marriage equality.
Even religious groups in the country support the change. The Swiss Reformed Church backed marriage equality last year and some churches conduct same-sex blessings.
Meanwhile Switzerland passed an anti-homophobia law in a referendum in February this year. The vote passed easily with 63% in favor and just 37% against. Indeed, of Switzerland’s 26 cantons – or states – only three had majorities against it.