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Swiss Politicians Keep Delaying Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Swiss Parliament Building

Marriage equality has hit a delay in Switzerland.

The Legal of Affairs Committee of the Council of States (the upper house of Switzerland’s parliament, the Federal Assembly) decided this week to postpone a vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, saying the committee needed to clarify that it was constitutional, Gay.it reports. The assembly’s lower house, the National Council, had approved the bill by a wide margin in June.

Switzerland has offered civil unions for same-sex couples since 2007, but these arrangements do not offer all the rights of marriage, such as the right to adopt children jointly or have access to in vitro fertilization, Gay Star News notes.

LGBTQ+ activists in the nation expressed frustration but remained 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,” she added, according to Gay Star News. Lawmakers should involve marriage equality advocates in discussions about the bill, she said.

Activists think it may be harder for the bill to pass the Council of States than the National Council, the publications report. But a far-right party, the Swiss People’s Party, holds only six of the 46 seats in the Council of States.

There are fears that the People’s Party could force a referendum to repeal marriage equality if the assembly enacts it, but Swiss voters are likely to reject a repeal. A survey by the LGBTQ+ organization Pink Cross this year found that 81 percent of respondents support marriage equality, 63 percent strongly. Also, in February, voters approved a law criminalizing expressions of homophobia, with 63 percent in favor. And in a 2016 referendum, voters rejected a proposal to preemptively ban same-sex marriage.

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