Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Same-sex marriage vote clears way for Swiss law

Men gave approval to it, and so did women, thus making it legal in Zurich

An historic vote in Switzerland has paved the way for same-sex marriages to be legalised in the Alpine country.

On Friday, some 55% of Swiss citizens voted in favour of the marriage equality initiative, according to an estimate by Switzerland’s gfs.bern polling institute.

Supporters, who wanted to enshrine same-sex marriage in the constitution, had called on people to “let their vote be heard”, saying marriage “should never exclude anyone”.

Both the Swiss government and the parliament opposed the initiative, and polls before the vote had suggested it was unlikely to pass.

During the referendum, opponents warned that enshrining same-sex marriage in the constitution could have consequences for religious freedom.

The separation of church and state, they said, would be damaged if Swiss law were to recognise gay marriage, something they said could cause conflicts in the future.

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Although it is rare for a constitutional change to be voted through at the ballot box, the Swiss government had failed to win a majority in parliament to pass same-sex marriage legislation. A small majority of those who responded to a previous petition backing gay marriage, as well as gay rights activists, had wanted to change the constitution.

When parliament became aware of the petition, it began to work on proposals to enable same-sex marriage, which it signed off in January.

Gay men were finally able to get married in Switzerland in December, two years after the cabinet introduced limited equality to the country’s homosexual couples.

Gay couples can now register their relationships, but can only get married if the marriage law has already been amended by the time they marry.

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Leyla Sulman, who married last year, said since her marriage she had noticed a change in the way she was treated, but was not concerned for her safety.

“The security that comes with marriage is worth the risks of discrimination, which I believe my love brings in every way,” she said in a statement.

Sulman is now encouraging more Swiss to become more involved in the campaign for same-sex marriage, saying: “The more we have, the better our situation will be.”

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