Switzerland Votes to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

Switzerland voted Sunday to allow same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, thousands of people attended a high-spirited Pride parade in Zurich to support the legalization of same-sex marriage. They held up posters touting “Marriage for All” campaign slogans. They called for passage of the referendum that would grant gay and lesbian partners the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Following Sunday’s vote, all Western European countries except Italy allow same-sex marriage.

Ahead of the vote, opinion polls indicated more than 60% of the electorate supported the proposal. The head of the Marriage for all Campaign, Olga Baranova, was confident of victory.

“Switzerland is quite a conservative country; we cannot forget it. But we have to say that for the last 20 years, people in Switzerland changed their mind completely on LGBT issues. So now people in Switzerland are ready for the same-sex marriage,” said Baranova.

The Swiss government has endorsed the Marriage for All referendum. However, churches and right-wing political parties in this conservative, rich Alpine country oppose it. They claim legalizing same-sex marriage would undermine traditional family values.

With the proposal approved by voters, law, lesbian and gay couples could adopt children, something they cannot legally could not do before. It also grants easier access to sperm donations to lesbian couples who would want to start a family. Opponents say this would deny children their right to a father, as the identity of the sperm donor could not be revealed until the child reaches the age of 18.

Opponents vow they will not abandon this issue even with the passage of the same-sex referendum. They note only 50,000 signatures of Swiss citizens are needed to get any matter on the ballot, in this highly democratized country. 

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