As the final results of a nationwide referendum revealed Sunday, cheers rang out and hugs were exchanged across Switzerland, rainbow-colored flags flew overhead as the Swiss voted in unanimity to allow gay couples to marry.
Official results indicated that the measure was approved with 64.1% of votes, while more than half the voters voted in favor of each of the 26 cantons or states of Switzerland. This vote, which has been years in the making, will bring the Alpine nation in line with many other western European countries and concludes a often heated campaign between rival parties.
Karin Keller-Sutter, Justice Minister, tweeted that the government would implement the decision quickly. According to current plans, the new rules could take effect July 1st.
The “Marriage for All” measure was supported by the Swiss parliament and the governing Federal Council, on which she sits. This is a significant step towards greater rights for lesbians and gays in Switzerland. Since 2007, the country has allowed same-sex civil partnerships.
Keller-Sutter stated that this will ensure that all couples are treated equally in the future. All can enter into a civil union with the same rights, and all have the same obligations.
Passage will allow same-sex couples to be treated equally by allowing them the right to adopt children and providing citizenship to their spouses. It will allow lesbian couples to use regulated sperm donor.
“This is an historic day for us, and for Switzerland,” declared Laura Russo (co-president of Geneva Federation of LGBT Associations) at a celebration of the measure that took place along a Geneva pedestrian street. “This initiative was started in 2013, but it took 8 years for the vote — and here, it is a big Yes’.”
Opponents argue that replacing civil partnerships by full marriage rights would weaken families based on the union of a man with a woman.
Benjamin Roduit, of the Christian Democratic People’s Party claimed some success in raising awareness about the party’s positions, despite losing the election.
He said, “On our part we have tried to draw awareness to the main problem, that of children and medically assisted reproduction.” “On this point, I believe we have succeeded in raising awareness within the Swiss population and we will still remain here when additional steps are proposed.”
There have been many allegations about unfair tactics in the campaign. The opposing sides denounced the removal of posters, LGBT hotlines being flooded with complaints and hostile emails. They also decried the shouted insults directed at campaigners and attempts to silence other views.
Switzerland has a population estimated at 8.5 million. It is conservative in nature and granted the right to vote in 1990 to all citizens.
While most countries of Western Europe recognize same-sex marriage, many in Central and Eastern Europe do not allow for wedlock between two or more men.
Anna Leimgruber, a voter in Geneva, said that she voted for the “no” camp at a polling station because she believes “children would have to have a father and a mother.”
Nicolas Dzierlatka voted “yes” but said that children need love.
He said, “I believe what’s important to children is that they’re loved and respected — I think there’s children who aren’t respected or loved in so called ‘hetero” couples.”
On Sunday, voters rejected a proposal by left-wing groups to increase taxes on investment returns and capital like dividends and income from rental properties in Switzerland to ensure fair taxation and better redistribution.
The results showed that 64.9% voted against the bill in a country well-known for its vibrant financial system and low taxes and as a haven to many of the richest people in the world. The referendum was voted against by no canton.