Written by By Maryam Zafar, CNN
A year after Switzerland passed same-sex marriage legislation by a small majority, a Swiss national referendum on the issue delivered a resounding victory to proponents of such unions.
Despite predictions of a historic “no” vote, ballots returned by Swiss television were projected to show that 55% of voters approved the same-sex marriage law. If approved by Swiss citizens in 2020, the move will give full legal recognition to same-sex couples, granting them legal rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
“We can now tell the world, we live in a democracy and can make decisions here,” Karin Keller-Sutter, a popularly elected MP for the Social Democratic Party, told CNN. Keller-Sutter’s campaign for the referendum generated international headlines after declaring during her campaign that marriage should be available “only to a man and a woman.”
Zoé Gobel, a 44-year-old psychologist, marries Aalix Domon, 44, with whom she has been living in Basel, Switzerland for 10 years. Credit: Valentin Estaude Lacroix/Aitb/IFC/CNN
The UK’s Der Spiegel, for example, labeled the campaign “the longest, most bizzare Swiss election ever,” while French daily Le Monde reported that French-speaking Quebeckers in Switzerland had even taken to mailing votes to voters in support of the law.
In March 2017, Swiss lawmakers approved a proposed law by a margin of just two votes. From then on, civil servants carrying out everyday tasks — from registering births and deaths to naming dogs, as well as collecting taxes — would come under the authority of the Gender Commission of the Federal Gender Office, according to the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
Equality is normally fought for in courtrooms but Zurich Gender Commissioner Maria Büttner — who pushed the law through parliament — told the Times of London that forcing social services to act on the registry will bring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people out of the shadows.
“Being discriminated against or banned from access to a social service because you are homosexual or are trans is a slap in the face for any of us, and for all civil society organizations that work in the area of discrimination,” Büttner said.