Swiss parliament finally approves same-sex marriage in stunning victory for queer love – but opponents plot one final hurdle

Gay couple celebrate their wedding

Switzerland’s parliament has finally approved a bill legalising same-sex marriage on Friday (18 December) in a landmark victory for LGBT+ rights – but there’s a catch.

The Federal Democratic Union party – a Christian political party – has requested that same-sex marriage now be put to the people in the form of a referendum before it is legalised, meaning queer couples may have to wait even longer to marry. Under Swiss law, a referendum on an issue can be called if enough signatures are collected.

The Rainbow Families association, an LGBT+ organisation in Switzerland, said it is “ready” for a referendum, and that there is broad public support for same-sex marriage.

“If the opponents launch a referendum, we’re ready,” Matthias Erhardt, deputy president of the Rainbow Families association said, according to The Local.

“We have 82 per cent of the population behind us and, thanks to the mobilisation of the LGBT community, our partner organisations and the political parties who support us, we will be able to further increase acceptance of LGBT people in society,” he said.

The country’s same-sex marriage bill has now been approved by the two chambers of parliament in Switzerland following significant public debate, which has dragged on since 2013.

The bill would allow queer couples the same access to marriage as opposite sex-couples enjoy, and would also allow lesbians to access sperm donation in a landmark change.

Same-sex marriage vote in Switzerland hailed as a ‘historic victory’.

Amnesty Switzerland welcomed the passing of the bill, calling it a “historic victory for the rights of the LGBT+ community”.

Civil partnerships have been legal in Switzerland since 2007, but the country has lagged behind other European countries in its reluctance to allow same-sex couples to marry.

The country’s parliament finally voted the bill into law on Friday following seven years of deliberations on exactly what should be included in the legislation.

The bill was first introduced by the Green Party in 2013, and various different versions of the text have been debated ever since.

Much of the debate has focused on the country’s constitution, with lawmakers questioning whether it would need to be amended before same-sex marriage was introduced.

However, the council of states – the upper house of parliament – decided earlier this month that there was no need to change the constitution, as the wording around marriage was already inclusive: “The right to marry and to have a family is guaranteed.”

Switzerland has moved incredibly slowly on LGBT+ rights compared to other European countries, with the first law banning LGBT+ discrimination only passing as recently as this February.

There is broad public support for same-sex marriage and greater rights for LGBT+ people in Switzerland, according to a study from LGBT+ organisation Pink Cross.

The results of the study, released in November, found that an overwhelming 82 per cent of the population supported same-sex marriage, while 72 per cent supported same-sex adoption.

Furthermore, 70 per cent of those surveyed agreed that same-sex couples should have access to sperm donation.