Switzerland Approves Bill Legalizing Marriage Equality

A rainbow flag is pictured on the window at Vogay in Lausanne
A rainbow flag on the window at Vogay, an LGBTQ advocacy group in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Reuters/ Denis Balibouse

Swiss same-sex couples couples could soon be able to elope thanks to a recent vote by that nation’s lawmakers.

The “Marriage For All” legislation passed handily on December 18 in both houses of the Federal Assembly, reports the Washington Blade.

A member of the Green Liberal Party introduced the bill in 2013. Switzerland had remained one of the few European countries — Italy is another — without full marriage equality. Its existing civil partnerships denied same-sex couples certain marriage rights such as the ability to adopt children.

Advocates have recently secured several historic wins for LGBTQ rights

But there’s a caveat to the recent victory.

The UK LGBTQ outlet Pink News reports the Federal Democratic Union party, a Christian political party, has requested that same-sex marriage be delayed until Swiss voters get their say in a referendum. Should the party garner sufficient signatures, the advance would be delayed pending that vote. Rainbow Families, which has advocated for marriage equality in Switzerland, told Pink News it is “ready” for a referendum.

For years, that nation has fallen far behind in Europe’s efforts toward LGBTQ equality. But, advocates say this was one win of many for Switzerland’s queer community. This year, the country passed a law protecting LGBTQ people against discrimination.

Reuters reported on December 18 that Swiss lawmakers are also making it easier for trans people to legally change their gender. Transgender people there can now take that step based on their own sworn statement — rather than having to produce a note from a doctor about their medical transition.

Amnesty Switzerland, a human rights organization, praised the new legislation.

“This is a historic victory for the rights of the LGBTI* community,” the group wrote in a tweet.

It’s been more than a decade since Switzerland approved same-sex civil partnerships. In 2007, Gay City News reported on the first gay couple to register under the Swiss federal partnership act. At that time, queer couples were barred from adoption and fertility treatments. The couple had been together for years, and an official at the ceremony called this “the crowning moment of their lives.”

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