Marriage equality in Switzerland facing Government delays

As Government delays progress on the marriage equality bill in Switzerland, the LGBT+ community are understandably losing patience.

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It comes as a surprise to many that LGBT+ people in Switzerland lack full legal marriage equality. While the country has offered civil unions since 2007, same-sex marriage, full-joint adoption and IVF access are unavailable as of 2020.

The country is one of Europe’s oldest democracies and human rights are “comprehensively guaranteed” according to Freedom House.

Provision for same-sex marriage has travelled through various stages in Government departments since 2013 and a marriage bill was drafted by the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council and was finalised in early 2019.

The bill was passed on June 11, 2020, by 132 votes to 52.

On August 14, the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council made the decision to postpone a vote on the bill, saying the committee needed to clarify that it was constitutional, reports.

Swiss LGBT+ advocates expressed frustration at the decision but remain hopeful.

“Switzerland is used to long political trials, but in the case of marriage for all, the patience of the people affected is particularly tested,” said Salome Zimmerman, chair of the Marriage for All Committee.

“This renewed postponement increases the legal uncertainty for many families. It has been proven that children in rainbow families grow up just as happy.”

“The experts and the Swiss people are on our side,” and support is “growing every day”, Zimmerman said adding that she thinks lawmakers should involve marriage equality advocates in discussions about the bill.

Following the vote in the National Council, the bill will move to the Council of States, where activists believe it will face opposition as a far-right party, the Swiss People’s Party, hold six of the 46 seats.

Activist’s fear that the People’s party will attempt to force a referendum to repeal marriage equality if the assembly enacts it.

Swiss voters would likely reject this repeal with a recent poll showing that marriage equality receives upwards of 80% support from the Swiss public.

In February 2020, the vast majority of Swiss voters elected to ban discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

While activists can see marriage equality on the horizon in Switzerland, uncertainty remains for now.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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