Switzerland to vote on same-sex marriage and adoption amid intense campaigns

Zaina Alibhai
Wednesday 22 September 2021 14:26

Switzerland will vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether to allow same-sex couples to get married and adopt children following intense campaigns from gay rights activists.

The country is one of the last Western European countries to still ban gay marriage, with same-sex couples only being allowed to enter civil partnerships in 2007.

The government and Parliament approved opening civil marriage to same-sex couples last December but was forced into a referendum by opponents, which will take place on Sunday.

Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, members of the public can veto parliamentary decisions via a referendum if they manage to collect 50,000 valid signatures within 100 days of the official publication of the act. Earlier this year, the country’s federal chancellery announced the law’s critics had gather 61. 0247 signatures, surpassing the key threshold for a vote which was scheduled for this weekend.

Some 63 per cent of Switzerland are in favour of same-sex marriage, while 35 per cent said it planned to vote against it, according to recent polls.

Support was highest in the French-speaking part of the country (66 per cent), followed by the German-speaking region (64 per cent), and Italian-speaking regions (58 per cent), according to another survey.

Same-sex couple in Switzerland were finally allowed to enter civil partnerships in 2007, after a federal law was passed in 2005, and the right to adopt their partner’s children in 2018.

Under the new legislation, both male and female same-sex couples would be allowed to adopt children unrelated to them in the same way as heterosexual couples.

Married lesbian couples would also be allowed to have children through sperm donation, which is currently legal only for married heterosexual couples.

Both women would be recognised as the child’s official parents from birth.

Committee Marriage for All’s Antonia Hauswirth said the current adoption procedure could take three years.

"If something happens to the biological mother during this time, the child is considered an orphan."

The proposed scheme would give children born from a sperm donation two parents from birth and thus better legal protection, she said.

However, opponents argue the changes would deprive children of a father.

Olivier Dehaudt, member of a referendum committee objecting to the proposal, said: "Tomorrow, a child in Switzerland will still have a mother, but just an ‘other parent’ instead of a father.

“The father just gets deleted from the civil code, that’s not acceptable to me.”

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