Switzerland looks almost certain to allow same-sex marriage from 2021 – even if it faces a referendum.
Marriage equality has now passed major hurdles in the Federal Assembly, Switzerland’s parliament.
In June the National Council, the lower house of parliament, approved equal marriage by a big majority. Then the Council of States, the upper house of parliament, also approved it.
Now, the National Council has swiftly confirmed the Council of States version of the bill, allowing it to move forward to a final vote on 18 December.
The bill will almost certainly pass that final vote, meaning the only hurdle could be if marriage equality opponents call a referendum on the issue. However an overwhelming majority of Swiss voters are in favor of same-sex marriage.
Salome Zimmermann, president of the national Marriage for All campaign, said (translated).
‘We are delighted that marriage is making the leap out of the parliamentary phase for everyone in this session.
‘When you consider how long we have waited for equality, the quick adjustment of the differences between the Council of States and National Council is an important political gesture towards the LGBT community.’
‘We look to the future with confidence’
Switzerland has a direct democracy. So if opponents gather 50,000 voter signatures in 100 days, they can challenge new laws via a referendum.
It is not clear if the right-wing populist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) – the main opponents – will demand a referendum.
But polling this year showed 82% of Swiss voters want marriage open to all. Indeed, the poll also found that most SVP supporters (62%) actually back marriage equality.
Jan Müller from the Marriage for All campaign said: ‘We look to the future with confidence, because if the opponents of marriage launch a referendum for everyone, we are ready for a voting campaign.
‘82% of the Swiss population say yes to marriage for everyone – with the mobilizing power of the LGBT community, family organizations, our partner organizations and the political parties that support us, we will be able to further increase acceptance of LGBT people.’
All this indicates 2021 will be the year Switzerland finally gains marriage equality, around a decade since the issue was put before the Federal Assembly.