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Discrimination vs free speech Swiss people to have say on criminalisation of homophobia


Anyone who violates the law, either with racist or homophobic acts, can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. 

(© Keystone / Walter Bieri)

Groups against a new legislation that criminalises homophobia have collected enough signatures to force a nationwide referendum on the subject.

The legislation approved by parliament last December extends anti-racism norms to encompass discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation: a legal modification that allows for homophobia to be prosecuted just like racism, or anti-Semitism.

On Monday, opponents of the law - the ultra-conservative Federal Democratic Union (FDU) party, the youth wing of the Swiss People’s Party and the Youth and Family Working Group – handed in over 70,000 signatures to Federal Chancellery. A minimum of 50,000 is required to force a referendum.

The so-called “No to this censorship law” referendum committeeexternal link called for more tolerance and the removal of “censorship bandages”. They claim that the law will hurt freedom of expression and make it difficult for pastors to quote “biblical truths".

The campaign has been accused by some of targeting gays and lesbians.

The government is still to set a date for the vote.

LGBTIQ rights Why one party is opposing the criminalisation of homophobia

Last year, parliament approved legislation to criminalise homophobia. Now, a small conservative party wants to launch a referendum against it.


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