Swiss anti-gay discrimination vote sends ‘strong signal’

Under the amended law voted on Sunday, Switzerland's LGB community will get more legal protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Manuel Lopez

The Swiss press have largely welcomed voters’ broad support to closing a loophole in lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) rights by extending anti-racism laws to cover sexual orientation. 

This content was published on February 10, 2020 - 09:53

Sunday February 9 was “a bad day for intolerant people”, wrote the Blick tabloid on Monday.

Yesterday, 63.1% of voters came out in favour of extending current anti-racism legislation to make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. 

Blick said the vote meant “more freedom for hundreds of thousands of citizens” and was not about censorship or muzzling. 

The Tages-Anzeiger paper said the result should be seen as a further step towards equality for homosexuals rather than any kind of special protection. 

“[Homosexuals] are threatened and marginalised. Society is now clearly saying that it will not tolerate this,” it said. 

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) also largely welcomed the “symbolic” decision. 

“Voices standing against diversity in life found no support,” it said. However, its editorial added that revisions of criminal law rarely change individual attitudes. 

“[The new standard] will play a minor role in legal practice. What’s more, it remains unsatisfactory that criminal law selectively protects human dignity,” it stated. 

“Land of small steps” 

Support for the proposed legal change was particularly strong in French and Italian-speaking regions and in urban areas. Opposition came mainly from rural areas in central and eastern Switzerland.  

The French-speaking Le Temps daily described the “rainbow triumph” as a “strong signal against homophobia”. 

The Fribourg newspaper La Liberté echoed this line: “Homosexuals have won a faultless victory”. 

The issue of same-sex marriage is due to be discussed in parliament next month, but La Liberté said supporters, encouraged by Sunday’s victory – seven years in the making – should remain patient as Swiss direct democracy advances extremely slowly. 

The Journal du Jura concurred. Switzerland “is finally catching up with most European countries. And yesterday’s “yes” vote will no doubt give a boost to the issue of marriage for all,” the paper said. 

The Swiss government supports a proposal to give homosexual couples the right to marry quickly but believes the issue of medically assisted procreation should be addressed at a later stage.  

The Jura paper said open questions like medically assisted procreation for homosexual couples remain very sensitive. It warned supporters against “overloading the boat”. 

“Switzerland is the land of small steps where everything takes time. If you try to drive through changes that affect the population, you run headfirst into a wall,” it concluded.

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More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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