Swiss parliament pushes forward on same sex-marriage

Same-sex marriage and joint adoption have been given a push © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Same-sex couples should be able to get married and lesbians should have access to sperm donation, the House of Representatives voted on Thursday, approving draft legislation.

This content was published on June 11, 2020 - 13:16

All parliamentary groups except the right-wing Swiss People’s Party argued for the “Marriage for All” bill. The centre-right Christian Democratic Party made its support conditional on the exclusion of sperm donation for lesbian couples, but this ultimatum had little impact on the final outcome.

The House of Representatives defied its legal affairs committee and the government, which backs gay marriage but has called for issues such as the regulation of survivors’ pensions or access to medically assisted procreation to be dealt with separately and later.

“The Federal Council welcomes the fact that this will eliminate today’s unequal treatment," said Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.

However, regarding access to sperm donation for lesbians, she said there were too many open legal issues concerning the child, in particular guaranteeing the child’s right to know their ancestry.

A working group was working on these issues, she said. The results should be available next year.

Same-sex couples currently cannot get married in Switzerland, but they may form a civil partnership. Same-sex marriages concluded abroad – they are legal in many countries across Europe – are recognised in Switzerland as a civil partnership.

Joint adoption

In addition to marriage for all and access to sperm donation for lesbian couples, the bill provides for facilitated spouse naturalisation and joint adoption. Since 2018, adoption of stepchildren has been possible for anyone in a civil partnership or a long-term relationship, but a couple in a civil partnership remains unable to adopt a child who is biologically unrelated to both parents. 

There is still some way to go before the bill is implemented. The Senate is still to discuss it, and a right-wing evangelical party says it will try to launch a referendum no matter what parliament eventually decides.

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