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Switzerland rejects constitutional restriction in “penalty of marriage” vote

Date

29 Feb 2016

Sections

Justice & Home Affairs

The Swiss electorate has voted against a popular initiative that would have effectively prevented same-sex couples from marrying. The initiative, backed by the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PDC) was rejected today (28 February 2016) by 50.8% to 49.2%.

Initially proposed by the PDC several years ago, the popular initiative “For the couple and the family - No to the penalty of marriage” was framed as a way to end fiscal inequality experienced by married couples. However, the popular initiative suggested not only a tax reform but included amending the existing gender neutral definition of marriage in Article 14 of the Swiss constitution. 

“This initiative was anti-LGBTI sentiment masquerading as tax reform. The Swiss public saw through the proposal and said they didn’t want to be part of it.”  commented Joyce Hamilton, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board.

The proposed wording would have limited marriage to a union between men and women only, locking same-sex couples out of the institution. LGBTI activists launched a campaign in advance of the vote to point out the contradictory nature of the proposal – simply replacing one form of discrimination with another.

Hamilton continued: “The run-up to this vote was a stressful time for our member organisations and LGBTI activists in Switzerland – it is wonderful to see that their great work has paid off. Their campaign helped voters to understand the issues at stake, illustrated that it wasn’t all about taxes and warned people of the inequality they could be voting for unintentionally".

///ENDS

For more information please contact 
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375
Emma Cassidy at +32 2 609 56 50

Notes for editors: 

  1. ILGA-Europe is the European Region of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and works for human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans & intersex people in Europe. ILGA-Europe represents over 400 member organisations in 45 European countries: www.ilga-europe.org 
  2. For up-to-date information on the legal and policy situation for LGBTI people in Switzerland, visit our Rainbow Europe Module: http://rainbow-europe.org/#8663/0/0 
  3. Switzerland currently lies 32nd  overall in ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Europe ranking: http://rainbow-europe.org/country-ranking
  4. An English translation of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation is available for reference here: https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classified-compilation/19995395/index.html 
  5. In Switzerland, there several types of public vote. A popular initiative aims to amend the constitution (after 100,000 public signatures collected within 18 months). A referendum attempts to alter a decision taken by parliament (some will occurred after 50,000 signatures are collected within 3 months; some parliamentary outcomes will require a mandatory public vote). 
  6. More information on the final vote result is available here: http://www.srf.ch/news/schweiz/abstimmungen/abstimmungen/initiative-gegen-heiratsstrafe

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