Metro Weekly

Switzerland votes to legalize same-sex marriage

The European nation also made it easier for some transgender people to have their gender legally recognized

wedding, gay, marriage, same-sex
Gay married couple’s hands – Photo: Nick Karvounis / Unsplash

In a major win for the LGBTQ community, Switzerland lawmakers approved the legalization of same-sex marriage last week.

At the same time, the law also allowed transgender people to alter their legal gender at civil registry offices in the country and allows lesbian couples to conceive children using donated sperm, Reuters reports.

Despite passing parliament, the same-sex marriage law may have to pass a national referendum in the coming year. However, activists expect a potential referendum to succeed, after a recent survey found support for marriage exceeding 80% in Switzerland.

Campaign group Marriage For All posted a statement on their website declaring, “This is not only a milestone in the fight for the rights of the Swiss LGBT population, but also an important victory for their dignity, their acceptance and their inclusion in society.”

Prior to the passing of the landmark legislation, Switzerland fell short of other countries in western Europe with regards to LGBTQ rights — three of its five neighbors had previously legalized same-sex marriage, for instance — and the landlocked nation only banned discrimination based on sexuality this year.

Related: European Union reveals plan to tackle rising anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Alongside marriage equality, trans people will now be able to change legal documents to reflect their correct gender identity by declaring the change at civil registry offices.

Transgender Europe, an advocacy group, says that Switzerland is now the eighth country to allow transgender people to “self-ID” without requiring approval from a doctor or court.

Previously, trans Swiss people had to sue in court to have their gender legally recognized, and the Swiss Government found in 2018 that legal proceedings could be “inconsistent” and “unnecessarily protracted and expensive.”

However, the law introduced a potential barrier to some trans people by introducing a parental consent requirement for those under the age of 16.

Trans advocates noted that the limit is arbitrary, given the current system doesn’t require parental consent for those under 16, and medical treatments related to transitioning also don’t require consent.

Alecs Recher, head of legal services at Transgender Network Switzerland, told Reuters, “On the one hand, we’re super happy there will be this legal gender recognition based on self-determination, in a very quick and simple procedure. But, on the other hand, it’s a major step back for those under 16.”

In order to trigger a referendum on the new law, opponents would need to collect 50,000 signatures within the next 100 days.

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