Switzerland moves step closer to same-sex marriage

Supporters of same sex marriage carry banners and shout slogans as they gather on a street in Sydney on August 6, 2017. Australia's Liberal Party, the senior partner in the ruling coalition, is set to debate its same-sex marriage policy on August 7 amid tensions between conservative and moderate elements over whether to dump a policy of holding a plebiscite on the issue in favour of other options, despite strong popular support for marriage equality. / AFP PHOTO / PETER PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

Switzerland is a step closer to legalising same-sex marriage.

The House of Representatives Legal Affairs Committee announced it had voted in favour of a draft law setting out the measures and is launching a consultation process on the issue.

A statement released by the committee said more discussion was needed over allowing sperm donation for lesbian couples.

Same-sex marriage is currently illegal in Switzerland, although couples have a “registered partnership” option which allows them many of the same legal rights and obligations as married couples.

If you are in a registered partnership, however, you are unable to jointly adopt children or have children using artificial insemination.

Being in a registered partnership also does not give the foreign partner of a Swiss citizen access to the easier naturalisation process for Swiss citizenship.

Sperm donation is only currently permitted for heterosexual married couples.

Whether sperm donation should be allowed for married lesbian couples is being discussed by the committee, but opponents argue this is unfair towards male couples, who are currently not allowed to use a surrogate and donated eggs.

Switzerland voted to make homophobic and transphobic crimes punishable with a prison sentence (Getty)

Last year, Switzerland voted to make homophobic and transphobic crimes punishable with up to a three year prison sentence.

The National Council voted to criminalise homophobic and transphobic acts, putting it on a par with the way the country treats racism.

The council voted 118 for and 60 against to introduce a prison sentence for homophobia and transphobia.

National councillor Mathias Reynard, who put forward the motion, told Shortlist, Reynard said: “The Swiss Parliament’s decision is great news because it sends the powerful message that homophobia is not an opinion; as for racism, it’s a violation of the law.”

He added: “I tabled the motion after speaking to friends of mine who have personally been victims of verbal and physical homophobic violence.

“And working on this law I found out that the Swiss case-law doesn’t punish either hate speech or incitement to hatred towards LGBT+ people.

“During the last few years, this loophole in the law has been pointed out several times at an international level.”