Switzerland backs crucial new anti-homophobia law in landmark public vote

Voters in Switzerland have backed a new law to ban homophobia, in a landmark moment for the country’s LGBT+ community.

The small European country, which lags behind many of its neighbours on LGBT+ rights, held a referendum on Sunday on a bill to outlaw discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation.

The plans generated a fierce opposition campaign from anti-LGBT+ activists and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, who claimed it would lead to censorship – despite the law simply adding to existing protections in the country for race, ethnicity and religion.

However, preliminary results confirmed that voters have backed the law by a by a comfortable margin of 1,413,609 votes to 827,361.

LGBT+ campaigners: Switzerland does not tolerate hate.

The news was celebrated by LGBT+ campaigners in the country.

Pink Cross Switzerland said in a statement: “With the adoption of the extension of the anti-discrimination penalty norm, hate speech and discrimination towards the LGB people due to their sexual orientation will be punishable.

“This is a strong sign against LGB-phobia and shows that a large majority of the Swiss population does not tolerate hate speech towards all minorities.”

Switzerland voted in favour of the anti-homophobia law

Switzerland voted in favour of the anti-homophobia law (Photo: Ja zum Schutz vor Hass)

Salome Zimmermann of the Swiss lesbian organisation LOS said: “Today, it is not only the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals that have been strengthened, but also those of all minorities.

“This result is a strong signal because the Swiss people say: We don’t want hate, we want an open society with acceptance for everyone.”

LGBT+ campaigners led a large-scale campaign in support of the law, delivering “hundreds of thousands” of flyers. Supporters flew rainbow flags to indicate their support for the law – and Pink Cross says that more than 20,000 were put up across Switzerland.

Florian Vock, President of the national “yes” committee, said: “We owe this strong yes to the tremendous effort of the LGBTI community and their allies. Together with civil society, we succeeded in moving and mobilising the population.

“We will use this momentum to tackle the upcoming major challenges for the community. It is now a matter of applying the protection article. In addition to the punishment of hate and discrimination, this also includes the statistical recording of hate crimes.”

Push for equal marriage in wake of result.

The vote will be followed by a push for same-sex marriage in the country, which to date only permits gay couples to enter ‘registered partnerships’.

MP Tamara Funiciello, who is bisexual, said: “My community demands complete equality in marriage – with all rights and obligations. Of course, this also includes protecting families and children. Otherwise the exercise is for nothing!”