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Civil rights Switzerland marks ten years of same-sex civil unions

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Gay and lesbian couples have been able to have their civil union officially recognised in Switzerland since 2007, when a new federal partnership act came into force. But many homosexuals hope marriage becomes the next official step, as a way of ending the stigma that surrounds registered partnerships (RTS/swissinfo.ch). 

Florent Jouinot, from the Vaud association for people concerned by homosexual matters (VoGay), believes there is a stigma attached to same-sex civil unions as the couple is not able to decide whether or not they wish to reveal their status themselves. 

“When you look for a job, an apartment or pay taxes you have to present your civil status. And as same-sex unions only exist for homosexuals, this can lead to discrimination,” Bastian Baumann, from the gay rights group Pink Cross, told swissinfo.ch. 

“There is discrimination in terms of the relationship between the state and its citizens. There should be no difference in treatment according to gender, colour of skin or sexual preference.” 

Baumann says that unlike France, the decisions of the Swiss authorities are well founded though: “There are no steps backwards. But with the current wave of conservative governments in Europe we have to be careful and remain alert and meet the emerging challenges that run contrary to individual human freedoms.” 

In Switzerland, the ideal situation would be marriage for all without having to differentiate over people’s sexual persuasion, adds Carine Landolt, spokeswoman for LWORK, a network of homosexual women in French-speaking Switzerland.

It is hoped that the Swiss government and parliament will tackle this issue in the next couple of years. In the meantime, following the initial wave of interest when the partnership act came into force, the number of same-sex civil unions remains stable, as shown in the graph below.

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