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Survey shows broad Swiss support for same-sex marriage

Ein Paar küsst sich
A 2017 marriage in Hamburg, Germany. Such a union is not possible in Switzerland. Keystone / Georg Wendt

A day after voters backed an anti-gay discrimination law, a survey shows that a majority of the population is also in favour of more rights – including marriage – for same-sex couples.

On Sunday, voters said “yes” to a legal amendment making it a criminal offence to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Now, a survey by the gfs group commissioned by Pink Cross – the Swiss organisation of gay and bisexual men – shows that four out of five Swiss are in favour of extending to same-sex couples the right to marry.

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“Citizens have long been ready for gay marriage,” said Roman Heggli, the director of Pink Cross. “Parliament now needs to take a step forward.”

The House of Representatives is set to discuss whether to move beyond the current situation in the spring parliamentary session. Same-sex couples at present have the right to a recognised civil partnership but not full marriage.

Another issue that has caused contention is the right of lesbian couples to have access to sperm donations. The government and the parliamentary committee which prepared the legislation are not keen on including this in the upcoming discussions; however, two-thirds of Swiss citizens support it, according to the Pink Cross survey.

Some 67% of survey respondents also think homosexual couples should be able to adopt children that are not biologically related to one of the parents. Currently there has to be a biological connection with one parent.

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Conservative parliament

Heggli says the discrepancy between population and parliament reflects the generally conservative attitude of Swiss politicians on social issues. Debates around paternity leave are another example, he says.

He hopes parliament will take the survey results to heart and go beyond the current legislative proposal, which is “no more than a ‘partnership plus’, not real equality”, he says.

In such a stand-off between public and political opinion, campaigners often launch a people’s initiative. Heggli doesn’t see it this way. “For us, it’s important to find a fast solution,” he says. A people’s initiative would delay things.

European countries where marriage equality already exists include France, Germany, Austria, Britain, Ireland, Spain, and the Scandinavian nations.

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Translated from French by Domhnall O’Sullivan,

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR