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Gay marriage vote: Papers praise ‘united, respectful and progressive’ Switzerland

Gay Pride marchers
“Who would have believed 20 years ago that Switzerland would one day vote in favour of marriage for all?” asked one Swiss paper Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Switzerland’s editorialists have heartily welcomed the “historic decision” by almost two-thirds of Swiss voters to say “I do” to gay marriage. However, they point out that the renewal of Switzerland is far from over, with plenty of necessary reforms still to come.

“From Lake Geneva to Lake Constance, from Basel to Catholic canton Valais […] the clear vote, also from voters in the countryside, is an important sign for gay and lesbian people in Switzerland. But this yes to ‘marriage for all’ is more than that,” said the Neue Zürcher ZeitungExternal link (NZZ).

On the previous voting Sunday, in June, Switzerland was divided, the paper said. “An urban Switzerland, depressed by the climate, lost to a rural Switzerland that was fed up with the cities. Since then, much has been written about rifts. The urban-rural divide, the vaccination divide, the Covid certificate divide. And now: the voting map is all green.”

Indeed, not one of Switzerland’s 26 cantons rejected the “marriage for all” initiative on Sunday. Overall, 64.1% voted for matrimonial equality.


“[Sunday’s] decision gives hope that Switzerland can still renew itself,” the NZZ continued. “Yes, there’s a backlog of pension reforms. Yes, there’s a backlog of climate reforms. But this major reform of marriage – that we’ve done!”

‘Colour and understanding’

“Finally!” was the one-word headline of the editorial in the Tages-AnzeigerExternal link.

“In December 2020 the joy over the clear approval in parliament was enormous, although the disappointment was even greater that a referendum campaign would be necessary. Still: the campaign brought colour and understanding into our lives. It was moving to see rainbow flags not only during Pride Month, but as an expression of solidarity across the country. The lives of gay couples were in focus – never before could heterosexuals learn so much about the dreams and needs of their fellow human beings. And understand that these are no different from their own,” the paper wrote.

“In matters of equal rights, our nation often comes near the bottom of the rankings. Thus, the amendment to the Swiss Civil Code decided [on Sunday] is also long overdue. A clear majority in favour of this issue was the least we could do. One wishes this country such results – and a little more speed – in the next major socio-political debates: on parental leave, childcare, equality.”

Tabloid Blick agreedExternal link, saying it’s not just about romance, but about rights. The paper’s columnist said her boyfriend had recently proposed, and while they were picking out a ring near Zurich’s main station, women and men walked past the shop on their way to Pride “to fight for something that both of us, our parents and grandparents took for granted”.

“It’s high time that the same applies to same-sex couples,” she said. “The yes to ‘marriage for all’ is a yes to equality and tolerance. Despite all the emotions associated with the issue, it’s not just about romance, but about rights – for gay and lesbian couples, but also for the children who are already growing up in these relationships.”


‘Historic Sunday’

“September 26 will be one of those historic Sundays, because of the scale and clarity of the result,” said Le TempsExternal link under the headline “Switzerland also knows how to be united, respectful and progressive”.

The Swiss “aspire to a fairer and more respectful society”, it said, stressing that the 63% of voters who backed the law against homophobia in February 2020 “had set the tone”.

Le Temps said Switzerland often dragged its feet concerning progressive changes in society – “do we need remind you that it was only a few months ago that we were celebrating women having the vote for just 50 years?”. But it added that Sunday’s result showed that Switzerland was capable of dealing intelligently with an extremely complex, symbolic and emotional subject. “It would be good to remember this as the campaign on the Covid law [on which the Swiss vote in November] gets underway,” it said.

“Who would have believed 20 years ago that Switzerland would one day vote in favour of marriage for all?”, asked La Tribune de GenèveExternal link, for whom Sunday’s result “shows how quickly mentalities are changing”.

Gays and lesbians can already get married in 16 European countries, said Blick. “It’s nice that soon they’ll be able to say ‘Yes, we do’ in this country too. And ‘Yes, we can’.”

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR