‘Marriage for all’? Swiss voters to decide same-sex marriage

Sep 24, 2021, 1:36 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2021, 6:13 am
FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 file photo, people take part in the Zurich Pride parade in Z...

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 file photo, people take part in the Zurich Pride parade in Zurich, Switzerland, with the slogan "Dare. Marriage for all, now!" (Trau Dich. Ehe fuer alle. Jetzt!) for the rights of the LGBTIQ community. Swiss voters will wrap up a referendum on Sunday Sept. 26, 2021, to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage in the rich Alpine country, with supporters hoping for a big step toward ending discrimination against gays and lesbians while opponents fear what they consider an erosion of traditional family values. (Michael Buholzer/Keystone via AP, File)

(Michael Buholzer/Keystone via AP, File)

GENEVA (AP) — Voters in Switzerland will decide Sunday whether to allow same-sex marriages in the rich Alpine country, one of the few in Western Europe where gay and lesbian couples do not already have the right to wed.

Switzerland has authorized same-sex civil partnerships since 2007. The Swiss government, which has endorsed the “Marriage for All” referendum, says passage would put same-sex partners on equal legal footing with heterosexual couples by allowing them to adopt children together and to sponsor a spouse for citizenship.

Opponents have argued that replacing civil partnerships with full marriage rights somehow would undermine families based on a union between one man and one woman.

Polls suggest the referendum, which also would allow lesbian couples to utilize regulated sperm donation, is set to pass. The most recent polls have suggested it has about 60% support, but the margin has narrowed as the vote has gotten closer.

The campaign has been rife with allegations of unfair tactics, with the opposing sides decrying the ripping down of posters, LGBT hotlines getting flooded with complaints, hostile e-mails and shouted insults against campaigners, and efforts to silence opposing views.

Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million and international prestige due to Geneva’s role as the home of the United Nations in Europe, is traditionally conservative and only extended the right to vote to all its women in 1990.

Depending on the geopolitical definition used to describe Western Europe, the country is the only, one of two or part of a handful of nations in the region that don’t recognize same-sex marriages. Greece, Italy and the microstates of Andorra, Monaco and San Marino also among the places that only allow local couples to marry if they are a man and a woman.

Most countries in central and Eastern Europe do not allow wedlock involving two men or two women.

Even if the Swiss referendum passes, supporters say it would be months before same-sex couples could get married, due mainly to administrative and legislative procedures.

Unlike in many other European countries, where elected lawmakers legalized same-sex marriages, Swiss voters are deciding because opponents qualified a public referendum on the matter after the national parliament approved legislation to give gay and lesbian couples full marriage rights. A similar referendum in Ireland in 2015 overwhelmingly passed.

Switzerland’s referendum process give voters a direct say in policymaking, and most voting is done through mail-in balloting.

The Swiss government says about 700 same-sex couples each year form civil unions, but that they don’t enjoy equal rights. By allowing marriage, it would let same-sex couples adopt children that are not those of either spouse; lesbian couples could gain access to donated sperm; and foreign-born spouses of Swiss nationals in same-sex relationships would get faster-track access to Swiss nationality.

“This is a fight that goes back 20 years,” said Matthias Erhardt, a Geneva City Council member who supports making same-sex marriages legal in Switzerland. “I think it would be a step toward modernity.”

“For us LGB people — lesbians, gays and bisexuals — it’s our entire life, our life plan, that’s at stake,” Erhardt said. Some transgender individuals identify heterosexual, while others consider themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Opponents say marriages should only be legally recognized when they are between a man and a woman, arguing that extending the institution to same-sex partners would enshrine the absence of fathers into law.

“If the law is adopted, we are going to introduce into Swiss civil law a new institution: that of the child without a father,” Yves Nidegger, a national lawmaker from the right-wing, populist Swiss People’s Party, said.

“Two women or two men who want to conceive a child, even if they love each other very, very very much, that’s just not the way children are created,” Nidegger said.

LGBT rights advocacy group ILGA-Europe places Switzerland 22nd – after Slovenia and Bosnia – in its 2021 ranking of 49 European countries on their legal and policy practices. The ranking takes into account a variety of factors including anti-LGBT discrimination, hate crimes and speech, and legal recognition of transgender people.

Another issue on Sunday’s ballot is a measure spearheaded by left-wing groups to raise taxes on returns from investments and capital such as dividends or income from rental properties in Switzerland as a way to ensure better redistribution and fairer taxation.

Polls suggest that referendum is unlikely to pass in a country known for its vibrant financial sector and relatively low taxes, and as a haven for many of the world’s richest people.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

House fire in eastern Pakistan kills 7 family members

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) — Police were investigating after a fire overnight in eastern Pakistan killed seven family members, a rescue official said Sunday. The fire ignited at a house in the Ali Pur area of Muzaffar Garh district in Punjab province, said rescue service chief Dr. Hussain Mian. He said firefighters retrieved the charred bodies […]
24 hours ago
Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leaves the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo Sunday, Oct. 17, ...
Associated Press

Japan’s Kishida sends offering to controversial Tokyo shrine

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida donated ritual offerings Sunday to a Tokyo shrine viewed by Chinese and Koreans as a symbol of Japanese wartime aggression, though he did not make a visit in person. Kishida donated “masakaki” religious ornaments to mark Yasukuni Shrine’s autumn festival. It was the first such observance […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

US religious group says 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A group of 17 U.S. missionaries including children was kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, according to a voice message sent to various religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident. The missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage, according to […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History

Today in History Today is Sunday, Oct. 17, the 290th day of 2021. There are 75 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 17, 1777, British forces under Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered to American troops in Saratoga, New York, in a turning point of the Revolutionary War. On this date: In […]
24 hours ago
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct 7, 2021 file photo, Workers in protective suits clean the contaminated...
Associated Press

Ship owner, operator of interest in California oil spill

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has designated the Mediterranean Shipping Company and others as parties of interest in an investigation into a vessel that was determined to be the source of an offshore pipeline leak in Southern California. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board marine casualty investigators boarded a container […]
24 hours ago
In this photo taken from video footage released by Roscosmos Space Agency, actress Yulia Peresild s...
Associated Press

Russian filmmakers land after shoot aboard space station

MOSCOW (AP) — A Soyuz space capsule carrying a cosmonaut and two Russian filmmakers has landed after a 3 1/2-hour trip from the International Space Station. The capsule, descending under a red-and-white striped parachute after entering Earth’s atmosphere, landed upright in the steppes of Kazakhstan on schedule at 0435 GMT Sunday with Oleg Novitskiy, Yulia […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
‘Marriage for all’? Swiss voters to decide same-sex marriage