Marriage for all vote splits largest Swiss political party
The “Marriage for all” initiative, one of two national referendums in Switzerland being voted on in September, has divided opinion amongst the public and Swiss political parties.
Switzerland has a ban on civil marriages for the LGBTQ+ community
Switzerland is one of four countries in Europe that continues to ban civil marriage for same-sex couples, choosing instead to allow civil partnerships. These partnerships, although binding in Swiss law, do not have the same benefits as civil marriage, such as joint adoption and simplified naturalisation.
The new initiative aims to allow all couples to be granted access to civil marriages, regardless of sexual orientation. It will also allow couples who are in civil partnerships to convert them to marriages. Attached to the vote are new rights that allow female married couples access to sperm donation to start a family. Following this, once the partner has given birth, both parents may be assigned as a mother on the birth certificate.
The referendum was created by the Green Liberal Party (GLP) in 2013. Having gone through several revisions and debates, the initiative is finally being put to a vote this September. The government has supported the yes campaign since its approval, with Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter declaring in June, “The state should not dictate to people how they should organise their private and family lives.”
Marriage for all divides traditional parties in Switzerland
Although a poll by Pink Cross in 2020 puts support for the referendum at 80 percent, the Federal Democratic Union of Switzerland (EDU / UDF) and the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) have gathered enough signatures to force a vote on the matter. They argue that the issue of same-sex marriage requires a fundamental change in the Swiss constitution, rather than just a new law. They also claim that elements of the bill are “legally and morally questionable,” and that the bill does not take into account children's well-being.
However, in recent weeks, the referendum has started to fracture the largest party in opposition to it. According to 20 minutes, the SVP is divided as to whether to support the initiative. Although a majority of SVP government members oppose the bill, the Young SVP has already gone ahead with supporting it. President of Young SVP David Trachsel has said that the initiative is not worth opposing and should be given "no weight", as he wants to refocus SVP attention on trying to reject the COVID-19 Act, coming up for a vote in November.
Across Switzerland, regional SVP parties have started to campaign on opposite sides of the vote. SVP groups in Bern and Zug have campaigned for no, while SVP groups in Emmental and Schaffhausen have campaigned for yes. “Especially the SVP, which stands for freedom, should support this,” said Andrea Müller, Party President of SVP Schaffhausen. “In 2021 it should be normal for same-sex couples to have the freedom to decide whether or not to get married and start a family."