I was surprised to learn today that Switzerland, of all countries, still has not legalized same-sex marriage.
One of the few European countries still lacking marriage equality, Switzerland will now ask its citizens to vote on the whether gays and lesbians can marry the person they love.
Switzerland’s journey to same-sex marriage has taken several twists and turns over the years.
Swiss lawmakers have been working on the issue since 2013 when the first bill was presented by the nation’s Green Party.
But the legislation stalled as lawmakers contemplated whether the move would require a change to Switzerland’s constitution.
In April 2020, the Council of States, the nation’s upper chamber, finally agreed a legal change was unnecessary.
On December 18, 2020, the National Council (Switzerland’s lower chamber) voted in favor of same-sex marriages by a vote of 24 to 11 with 7 abstentions. That bill also provides lesbian couples with access to sperm donation.
That vote triggered an uproar by two conservative groups – the Federal Democratic Union and the Swiss People’s Party – who quickly got to work collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.
Reuters reports that Switzerland’s democratic system allows opponents of decisions by parliament the right to force a referendum, or a public vote, if a group can collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days.
On Tuesday, the Federal Chancellery confirmed that over 61,000 signatures had been collected.
In May, the government will announce a date for the vote which will probably happened this fall.
The good news is a survey commissioned by the LGBTQ advocacy group Pink Cross in 2020 showed 82% of Swiss citizens (in a country of 8.5 million) support same-sex marriage.