Final Vote on Switzerland 'Marriage for All' Bill to Take Place Friday

By Philip Van Slooten

Switzerland's Federal Assembly on Friday will vote on a marriage equality bill that passed in both chambers on Dec. 9.

The Swiss Green Liberal Party first introduced the "Marriage for All" legislation in 2013. Scheduled votes were delayed several times before the Council of States, the Federal Assembly's upper house, first approved it on Dec. 1. The National Council, which is the Federal Assembly's lower house, passed it eight days later.

The bill would also allow lesbian couples to have access to donated sperm.

"This is good news as well as the vote in favor of lesbian couples' access to sperm donation," said ILGA-Europe Advocacy Director Katrin Hugendubel on Wednesday in an email to the Washington Blade. "However, there is still work to do until all children from rainbow families are protected."

Although Switzerland legalized same-sex civil partnerships in 2017, it remains one of the few countries in western Europe without full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Polls from the Pew Resource Center and Pink Cross, a Swiss LGBTQ rights group, indicate the issue has wide public support in the country.

Swiss law makes it difficult for same-sex couples in civil partnerships to access medically assisted methods of procreation or to adopt children.

Swiss MP Carlo Sommaruga during the Dec. 9 vote acknowledged questions regarding "whether the opening of marriage to same-sex couples paves the way to adoption for same-sex couples" as well as "the need or not for a new constitutional basis for medically assisted procreation."

Lawmakers ultimately partially addressed these concerns by only allowing same-sex couples to access these services in Switzerland.

"In the future we want to look at children who are born abroad," Maria von Känel Scheibling, vice president of the Swiss Rainbow Families Association, told the Blade during a Skype interview. "The next step is equality for children born of heterosexual couples and those of same-sex parents."

The full Federal Assembly on Friday is expected to declare the "Marriage for All" bill law. Conservatives are expected to call for a referendum to challenge it.

Activists say they are confident an anti-marriage equality referendum will not gain much traction among a generally supportive public.

The Pink Cross survey conducted earlier this year found 81 percent of respondents supported marriage equality, including 67 percent of voters who said they are members of the socially conservative Swiss People's Party.

"(This bill) is part of the broad movement calling for equal rights for all and fighting against discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation," Sommaruga said on Dec. 9.

Von Känel Scheibling remains hopeful for Friday's final vote, saying "It's a huge victory for our democracy."

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National LGBT Media Association.


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