Switzerland has now legalised same-sex marriages.
As per the results revealed by the Swiss federal chancellery, 64.1 per cent of voters voted in favour of same-sex marriage in Sunday’s nationwide referendum, in each of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, or states.
Basel City was most strongly in favour of the bill, with the rates of a “yes,” at 74 per cent.
Switzerland has made itself the world’s 30th country to recognize same-sex marriages, however, one of the last western European nations to do so. It was the Netherlands do lead the way back in 2001.
According to Justice minister Karin Keller-Sutter, the first same-sex marriages in Switzerland should be able to take place from July 1 next year.
“Whoever loves each other and wants to get married will be able to do so, regardless of whether it is two men, two women, or a man and a woman,” she said. “The state does not have to tell citizens how they should lead their lives.”
Switzerland had decriminalised homosexuality in 1942. While same-sex couples could register a civil partnership, about 700 of which are established each year, these couples often find themselves without the same rights as a marriage, unable to obtain citizenship based on their partnership and, struggling with the joint adoption of children.
The new amendments to the country’s laws now allow and recognize civil ceremonies to marry same-sex couples. It would also make having families for such couples easier as adoption norms change. The change that created the most controversy, married lesbian couples would now have access to sperm donation.
This was the reason driving many of the 36 per cents who said “no.”
Monika Rueegger, a politician with the right-wing Swiss People’s Party and an opponent of the measure, said children and fathers were the losers.
“This was not about love and feelings,” she told Reuters. “It was about children’s welfare.”
Proponents had gathered the 50,000 signatures needed to put the issue to a referendum under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy after the Swiss parliament approved a bill last December allowing same-sex couples to marry. Members of some Christian congregations and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) — Switzerland’s largest political party — were some of the strongest opponents of this bill that would create marriage equality.
“On our side, we have tried to draw attention to the central problem, the one of children and medically assisted procreation,” said Benjamin Roduit of the Christian Democratic People’s Party. “On that point, I think we have succeeded in raising awareness among the Swiss people and we will still be here when other steps will be proposed.”
Upon the declaration of the result, opponents plastered Swiss cities with stark posters decrying the commodification of children and warning the law will “kill the father.”
Voter Anna Leimgruber said she cast her ballot for the “no” camp because she believed “children would need to have a dad and a mom.”
But Nicolas Dzierlatka, who voted “yes,” said what children need is love.
This amendment in the law will also allow for an easier process for foreigners married to Swiss people to obtain Swiss citizenship.
There are also linguistic changes made to the Swiss Civil Code, replacing words such as “bride” and “groom” with either “two people” or “the engaged.”
Supporters of the bill would celebrate in Switzerland’s capital Bern on Sunday, said Antonia Hauswirth of the national committees.