Swiss government indicates support for same-sex marriage as referendum date set

Swiss government indicates support for same-sex marriage as referendum date set
A rainbow flag. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP
The Swiss government on Tuesday indicated it would be backing the same-sex marriage campaign ahead of September’s referendum on the issue.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter spoke out in favour of marriage for all, saying the Federal Council was in favour ahead of the vote this September. 

In supporting the Federal Council’s case, Keller-Sutter said “the state should not dictate to people how they have to organise their private and family life.”

If the proposal passes when put to a vote in September, not only will it allow people to marry someone of the same sex, but it will end unequal treatment with regard to naturalisation, adoption and reproductive medicine. 

Currently, same-sex couples cannot adopt children together in Switzerland, while it is more difficult for a same-sex partner to be naturalised than a partner of a different sex. 

When will Switzerland vote on same-sex marriage?

Switzerland will hold a referendum on same-sex marriage on September 26th.

As yet the only other question to be considered on September 26th is an initiative to reduce taxes

Switzerland is one of the few remaining countries in Europe where same-sex marriage is not legal.

If approved, Switzerland would become the 29th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.

Why is the referendum taking place?

The Swiss parliament approved a bill in December allowing same-sex couples to marry.

However, under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, new laws can be challenged and put to a referendum if more than 50,000 valid signatures are collected within 100 days.

Opponents in the wealthy nation of 8.6 million people gathered more than 60,000 valid signatures, the government said in a statement.

The Swiss normally vote three to four times a year on a wide range of topics at the national, regional and local levels — either laws challenged by petition or proposals that have gathered enough signatures.

A date for the vote, described as the “referendum against ‘marriage for all’,” has not yet been set.

READ MORE: Switzerland to hold same-sex marriage referendum

The law’s opponents, including members of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) — the country’s biggest — and the marginal, similarly right-wing populist Federal Democratic Union, had said they would try to trigger a referendum.

The SVP said it was “intolerable to want to place marriage on an equal footing with any form of cohabitation”. Same-sex couples can register a civil partnership in Switzerland.

However, this status does not provide the same rights as marriage, including for obtaining citizenship and the joint adoption of children.

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