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Married name rights to undergo a change

The House of Representatives has followed the Senate in approving a revision to name rights that is designed to give equal status to surnames of couples.

Under the change, men and women should keep their names after marriage or choose one of the two names as a family name. The same applies to registered partnerships.

The reason for the move is a European Court for Human Rights verdict from 1994 which said that the Swiss right to the use of a name was contrary to the basic principle of equal rights.

Wednesday’s emotional debate saw a minority, dominated by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, call for the current system to be maintained, especially the principle that the man’s name should be the family name.

The change to name rights would also see the end to the use of the double name without hyphen, such as Leutenegger Oberholzer, but would maintain the hyphenated version such as Widmer-Schlumpf, as this does not have a legal value.

If parents have a joint family name this will be passed on to their children. If the couple have kept their own names, it has to be decided upon marriage which name the children will take. But married couples can also decide to change their offspring’s name to the other surname within a year of the child’s birth.

The revision is now set to go to a final vote.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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