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Swiss gays say love knows no borders

Homosexuals drawing attention to the plight of "binational couples" Keystone

A few thousand gays have taken part in a demonstration in Zurich calling for the end of discrimination against "binational couples" - Swiss homosexuals and lesbians with foreign partners.

To mark Christopher Street Day, the organisers of the demonstration said these couples should be allowed to live together in Switzerland.

Francois Baur, the president of the homosexual organisation, Pink Cross, said gay couples were not willing to wait years until proposals to grant them equal rights became law. Baur said the Swiss authorities had to find an interim solution which would prevent the expulsion of foreigners living in common law relationships with Swiss homosexuals or lesbians.

According to Pink Cross, the cantonal authorities, particularly in Zurich, have been coming down harder on foreign gays. The organisation said for many foreign gays the only option was to apply for permission to stay in Switzerland based on exceptional circumstances. But the organisation said only a fraction of the requests have been approved over the past few years. It said some gays have had to enter into marriages of convenience in order to stay in the country.

A spokeswoman from Switzerland’s lesbian community said even though Switzerland was one of the first countries in Europe to legalise homosexuality, it had now fallen behind nations in northern Europe.

Christopher Street Day has become a symbol for the international gay movement. Nearly 30 years ago on Christopher Street in New York, gays openly resisted police raids on gay bars in the city.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR