The Swiss parliament has extended by two years its deadline for deciding on allowing gay marriage. A gay rights' group has welcomed the move to allow the issues to be looked into in more detail.
Parliament has given a parliamentary legal affairs committee until summer 2019 to draw up a bill on implementing the “Marriage for everyone”external link parliamentary initiative, which calls for gay couples to be allowed to marry. The practice is currently outlawed in Switzerland.
The decision to delay was attributed to the need to clarify certain legal issues with the federal administration. A committee spokesman said this meant looking into expected law changes in the fields of tax and social security, adoption and reproductive medicine.
A small minority of representatives from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party on Friday called for the initiative, put forward by the centrist Liberal Green Party, to be dropped.
Yves Nidegger said “marriage for all” was already covered by registered partnerships in Switzerland and it was not necessary to reconsider the issue. His arguments were not shared by a majority of parliamentarians.
Pink Cross, the umbrella association for Swiss gay groups, said it was pleased that the extension had been accepted because it allowed the authorities to look into the effects of the initiative in detail.
"Although we would have preferred the procedure to move on more quickly, we're looking forward to a dialogue with the public," co-secretary general Bastian Baumann told swissinfo.ch.
But he regretted that the People's Party still did not recognise and encourage the rights of people who love each other and want to install legal safeguards.
Parliament’s move comes at a time of increasing public support for gay marriage. A poll in October 2016 found that seven out of ten people thought gay couples should be allowed to get married.
In 2005, the Swiss people voted to allow same-sex civil unions, which came into force in 2007. The civil partnership resembles marriage, with gay couples granted the same pension, inheritance and tax rights and obligations. However, adoption of children by gay couples in a civil partnership remains forbidden, as does the facilitated application process for non-Swiss to become citizens and access to fertility treatment.
Same-sex marriage is recognised in many countries across Europe, including neighbouring France and nations such as Britain, Ireland, Spain and the Scandinavian countries. Other Swiss neighbours Germany, Austria and Italy allow civil unions.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj