Soon, same-sex couples will be able to marry in Switzerland.
Swiss lawmakers held a vote on Friday, December 18, on whether the country should legalize marriage equality. In order to do so, the legislation would pass a bill that has been debated since 2013. The bill would free same-sex couples from being limited to the restricted rights of “registered partnerships” to the ability to marry and experience rights similar to straight married couples. For instance, married gay couples could gain joint adoption rights, rights to tax writeoffs, rights to obtain citizenship, and more. According to Deutsche Welle, the Swiss Federal Assembly has chosen to approve that change.
Approving same-sex marriage wasn’t the only change on the table. The Federal Assembly also voted to simplify legal gender recognition procedures. Currently, Swiss law makes it so children and adults must pay up to CHF1,000 (approximately $1,130) and go through several bureaucratic hoops to change their gender on legal documents. But now, transgender citizens will be able to make a declaration at civil registry offices without needing to go through a court or a doctor.
But according to Wion News, this may not be the end of the conversation. Conservatives in the country are trying to gather enough signatures to hold a referendum over the same-sex marriage bill. Opponents to the bill will need to collect 50,000 signatures before 100 days have passed since this vote. If they do so, the public will then weigh in on the issue.
Even if that referendum were to happen, however, we do have viable paths toward a Switzerland with marriage equality. First, DW reports that a survey commissioned by the gay advocacy group Pink Cross found in February that 80% of Swiss citizens support marriage equality. But what if the vote ends up with anti-gay marriage results? Then, we can look to Taiwan as a precedent.
While Taiwan’s referendum resulted in the public overwhelmingly voting against marriage equality, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled in support of same-sex marriage. As such, the referendum was overruled. If a public vote comes and is against marriage equality in Switzerland, Taiwan has shown us a path to victory. But, we’ll see if that’s even needed… in due time.