After nearly seven years of legislation, Switzerland has now become the 29th country to formally pass marriage equality.
In addition to legalizing marriage for queer couples, the new law also provides protections for lesbian couples seeking access to sperm banks, which was a point of contention in negotiations.
“Today is a historic day for the LGBT community and their friends,” Salome Zimmerman, president of the national Marriage for All Committee, said in a statement. “The Swiss Parliament today confirmed that rainbow families and same-sex couples deserve the same rights as heterosexual families.”
Even though the bill has been approved, it could still be overturned via a public referendum given that the country allows for direct votes on referendums that have enough signatures.
However, a recentl poll commissioned by LGBTQ+ group Pink Cross showed a whopping 82 percent of the population support the bill so it appears doubtful the opposition could gather the required 50,000 signatures in just 100 days necessary to require a national vote. If it is left unchallenged, the government will set a date for it to go into effect.
“Today’s decision also means that the young generation will grow up in a Switzerland where it is a matter of course that same-sex lovers can marry and start a family,” said Jan Múller from the Marriage for All Committee. “This strengthens each and every one of us and contributes to the acceptance of LGBT people. It is clearly the beginning of a new era.”
Issues still remain, but Maria von Känel of Marriage for All Committee was pleased about the protection for women accessing sperm banks to start their own families.
“The equal access of female couples to sperm donation in Switzerland relieves those affected from a great deal of suffering,” von Känel said.
“Although this is already a matter of course for many in Switzerland, today’s victory is an incredible step forward for our country and everyone who is directly or indirectly affected by it,” Múller added. “We would like to thank everyone who has put their heart and soul into this cause in recent years: progressive parliamentarians, LGBT organizations, family organizations, and all other people who have contributed to this day.”
It should be noted that while Switzerland is one of the most progressive countries in Europe — having banned conversion therapy, expanded anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and allowing LGBTQ+ people to serve in the military — certain laws around adoption are still pending.
The new bill would permit married same-sex couples to adopt jointly, which had previously been illegal given that adoption was only restricted to married couples.
Step-child adoption is still pending in Parliament.