Couple denied Swiss citizenship over handshake refusal

The Hotel de Ville in the centre of Lausanne in western Switzerland © KEYSTONE / LAURENT GILLIERON

A couple who refused to shake hands or answer questions with members of the opposite sex on a naturalisation board in Lausanne have been denied Swiss citizenship. 

This content was published on August 17, 2018

In a statement issued on FridayExternal link, the Lausanne city authorities confirmed a recent local newspaper report that it had denied a couple Swiss citizenship for refusing to shake hands with members of the opposite sex on the board during a naturalisation interview in spring. 

But there had been other reasons that justified their rejection, the statement went on. 

“During the hearing, this couple displayed a general discriminatory behaviour which was demonstrated by their refusal to answer questions posed by people of the opposite sex,” it said.

“Such an attitude does not respect a fundamental principle of our Constitution and a pillar of our society, namely equality between men and women. The Municipality noted that this couple did not meet the legal requirements and thus rejected their request.” 

+ video of the naturalisation procedure in Geneva

The authorities added that according to federal and cantonal laws, “candidates for naturalisation must be well integrated into the Swiss and Vaud community and show by their behaviour their attachment to Switzerland, its institutions and their respect for the Swiss legal order.” 

Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand, Lausanne councillor in charge of security and the economy, told ATS that this was the first time the naturalization committee had refused a dossier since he became a member in July 2016. 

The couple now has three options: they can appeal, reapply or give up their plan to get Swiss citizenship, he declared. 

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