Switzerland: Broad support for same-sex marriage ahead of referendum
The Swiss broadly support allowing same-sex couples to marry, according to a poll published Friday, just weeks before a referendum on whether to legalise the practice.
A full 69 percent of those polled by the gfs.bern institute said they were in favour of making same-sex marriage legal, in a move that would finally bring the small Alpine nation in line with much of Europe on same-sex rights.
After years of debate and discussion, the Swiss parliament approved a bill last December allowing same-sex couples to marry.
But the bill was challenged under Switzerland's direct democratic system, with opponents gathering more than the 50,000 signatures needed to put the issue to a referendum, set to be held on September 26.
According to the survey of more than 22,400 eligible voters conducted between August 2 and 16, some 29 percent of respondents said they were opposed to the law change, while only two percent said they remained undecided.
The poll showed that members of some Christian congregations and supporters of the populist right wing Swiss People's Party -- Switzerland's largest political party -- were the most likely to oppose legalising same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couples can already register a civil partnership in Switzerland, with around 700 such partnerships established each year.
However, this status does not provide the same rights as marriage, including for obtaining citizenship and the joint adoption of children.
The government and parliament have urged voters to back the "marriage for all" initiative at the polls, and to eliminate the current "unequal treatment" between heterosexual and gay couples.
If approved, the law change will allow gays and lesbians to marry in civil ceremonies, and provide them with the same rights as other married couples.
Foreign spouses in same-sex relationships will become eligible to apply for citizenship through a simplified procedure, and same-sex couples will be permitted to jointly adopt. Lesbian couples will also have access to sperm donations.