Equally Wed Pro Blog

Switzerland passes marriage equality

marriage equality

Switzerland will officially legalize marriage equality and LGBTQ+ adoption after almost two-thirds of Swiss voters chose love in a Sunday referendum.

This will make Switzerland the 30th country to legalize marriage equality. Amnesty International called the moment a "milestone for equality."

Jan Muller, who was part of the national committee to vote "yes" for equality, told the AFP News Agency that Sunday was "a historic day for Switzerland, a historic day when it comes to equality for same-sex couples, and [was] also an important day for the whole LGBT community."

Olga Baranova, a spokesperson for the vote "yes" committee, added that the vote reflected the massive acceptance LGBTQ+ people have gained in the country over the past twenty years. The journey to this moment was a challenging one, though. In December 2020, both houses of the Swiss legislature approved a bill legalizing marriage equality, but anti-LGBTQ+ opponents gained the 50,000 signatures required to force a public referendum on the matter. Despite widespread support for marriage equality, there was a great deal of hostility leading up to the referendum. Baranova told euronews that their campaign's posters were "torn up, tagged, burned in a way I have never seen in Switzerland." She also said that LGBTQ+ use of hotlines that help victims of homophobia skyrocketed, growing from 1 or 2 calls per week to 1 or 2 calls per day. Nevertheless, equality prevailed. In a media conference, Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter celebrated the vote and said that marriage equality has the support of the Federal Council, the nation's 7-member executive branch. She said the new laws will likely take effect on July 1, 2022. They will not only allow LGBTQ+ people to marry and adopt children, but they will also allow married LGBTQ+ couples to get pregnant through sperm donation, though she emphasized that egg donation and surrogacy remain against the law for all couples. Additionally, she said LGBTQ+ spouses will now have an easier time gaining Swiss citizenship. "The Federal Council welcomes this decision," Keller-Sutter said, "because the state should not dictate how people should organize their  private life." She also noted the legalization of marriage equality has "great symbolic value for many same-sex couples: it is a form of recognition by society." 

—Molly Sprayregen

Photo by Jeremy Gouge