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What rights will same-sex couples get in Switzerland after Sunday’s referendum?

What rights will same-sex couples get in Switzerland after Sunday's referendum?
They will say "I do" soon. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP
With 64.1 percent of Swiss voting in favour of legalising same-sex marriages, gay couples will be granted new rights. What are they?

The new law, which will go into force on July 1st, 2022, will open up new possibilities for same-sex couples, putting them more on equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts.

Here is an overview of what’s to come:

Civil marriage

All gay couples will be able to wed civilly in a town hall in their place in residence (Zivilstandsbüro / Etat Civil / Ufficio stato civile), which is the only legally recognised marriage in Switzerland.

For those who also wish to have a religious ceremony, it might be possible in some cases as well.

In 2019, the Federation of Protestant Churches of Switzerland (FEPS) announced that it supports civil marriage between same-sex individuals.

“The diversity of sexual orientations reflects the fullness of the divine act of creation. God wants us the way we were created. We cannot choose our sexual orientation”, FEPS said at the time.

The Federation stressed that its support does not mean the church intends to actually introduce religious marriage for same-sex couples, as this decision belongs to local parishes.

It did, however, propose to include a provision in the church’s regulations giving its pastors the freedom of choice on whether to marry same-sex couples in a religious ceremony.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Swiss voters say big ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage

Adoption and reproductive rights

While same-sex couples were already able to register their partnerships and have the right to the partner’s inheritance and pension, they couldn’t adopt a child together or have access to sperm donations.

This will change in July, however: once married, gay couples will be able to adopt children jointly, lesbian partners will have access to sperm donations and medically assisted procreation.

Under the law, both women would be regarded as the child’s official parents.

READ MORE: Deviance and morality’: The history of the same-sex marriage movement in Switzerland

Facilitated naturalisation

Same-sex couples will now be able to take advantage of the simplified citizenship process, which applies to couples where one person is a Swiss national and the other a foreigner.

Until now, only married heterosexual couples were eligible for this procedure; those in registered partnerships — as was the case with gay couples — were excluded.

More information on facilitated naturalisation can be found here:

Naturalisation through marriage: How your partner can obtain Swiss citizenship


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