On the 26th of September Swiss voters have decided by a clear margin to allow same-sex couples to marry, in a referendum that brings the Alpine nation into line with many others in western Europe. Official results showed the measure passed with 64.1% of voters in favor and won a majority in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons.
The move was immediately challenged by a trio of nationalist and conservative Christian parties, which objected to the extension of same-sex couples’ rights beyond a basic civil partnership that has been legal in Switzerland since 2007.
Supporters said approval would put same-sex partners on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples by allowing them to adopt children together and facilitating citizenship for same-sex spouses.
Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million, is traditionally conservative and only extended full voting rights to women in federal elections in 1971, on the history of homosexuality in Switzerland at Lausanne university, said the change would represent “a huge step forward” in a country in which, although it decriminalized homosexuality in 1942, local and regional police continued to keep “gay registers”, in some cases into the early 1990s.
The Netherlands was the first EU country to change its marriage laws 20 years ago, with Germany and Austria becoming the latest in 2017 and 2019. Same-sex marriage is still illegal, however, in many eastern European countries, and is outlawed by the constitution in Poland and Hungary.