Divided Swiss to vote on same-sex marriage after fraught campaign
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[September 22, 2021]
By Silke Koltrowitz, Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Cecile Mantovani
ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss voters decide on
Sunday whether to allow same-sex couples to wed and adopt children after
a highly charged campaign pitted gay rights activists against
traditionalists in one of the last Western European countries to still
ban gay marriage.
The federal government and parliament have approved opening civil
marriage to same-sex couples, but opponents forced a referendum on the
issue under Switzerland's system of direct democracy.
In a provocative campaign, opponents of the reform used images of crying
babies and the word "slaves" written over dark-skinned pregnant bellies,
in a reference to surrogacy that is illegal in Switzerland, in stark
contrast to proponents waving "Yes, I do" rainbow flags at Zurich and
Geneva pride parades.
Showing the no-campaign in the traditionally conservative and Christian
Switzerland had gained traction in recent weeks, the share of voters set
to approve same-sex marriage fell to 63% in the latest poll by gfs.bern
for broadcaster SRG, while the share of opponents rose to 35%, versus
69% to 29% a month earlier.
Zurich residents Corinne Guntern and Anouk Oswald, a young same-sex
couple, said the 'Marriage for All' vote represented an important
milestone for their future.
"I want to be able to choose for myself if I want to marry this partner
next to me and if it's the right path for us to start a family," Oswald,
30, told Reuters. "It's important to show the younger generation you
don't need to hide."
Guntern, also 30, said it was not fair that a single woman could adopt a
child while a same-sex couple could not.
"Of course, a child needs safety and love ... but I don't think it makes
a difference whether that's given by a straight or gay couple," she
In Switzerland, same-sex couples received the right to enter civil
partnerships in 2007 and the right to adopt children parented by their
partner in 2018.
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A flag is pictured ahead of a vote on same-sex marriage in Bern,
Switzerland, September 8, 2021. Picture taken September 8, 2021.
Flag reads: "Yes, I will". REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Under the amended law, both male and female same-sex
couples would be allowed to adopt children unrelated to them in the
same way as their heterosexual counterparts.
Married lesbian couples would also be allowed to have children
through sperm donation, which is currently legal only for married
heterosexual couples. Under the law, both women would be recognised
as the child's official parents from birth.
Antonia Hauswirth of the national committee "Marriage for All" told
Reuters the current adoption procedure could take three years. "If
something happens to the biological mother during this time, the
child is considered an orphan."
The proposed scheme would give children born from a sperm donation
two parents from birth and thus better legal protection, she said.
Opponents say the changes would deprive children of a father.
"Tomorrow, a child in Switzerland will still have a mother, but just
an 'other parent' instead of a father. The father just gets deleted
from the civil code, that's not acceptable to me," Olivier Dehaudt,
member of a referendum committee objecting to the proposal, told
The proposed legal change would also open an easier path to
citizenship for the foreign spouse of a Swiss citizen.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Cecile
Mantovani; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
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