LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Switzerland rejects constitutional restriction in “penalty of marriage” vote

The Swiss electorate has voted against a popular initiative that would have effectively prevented same-sex couples from marrying in the future. 

The initiative, backed by the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PDC) was rejected today (28 February 2016) by 50.8% to 49.2%.

Initially proposed by the PDC several years ago, the popular initiative “For the couple and the family - No to the penalty of marriage” was framed as a way to end fiscal inequality experienced by married couples. However, the popular initiative suggested not only a tax reform but included amending the existing gender neutral definition of marriage in Article 14 of the Swiss constitution. 

“This initiative was anti-LGBTI sentiment masquerading as tax reform. The Swiss public saw through the proposal and said they didn’t want to be part of it.”  commented Joyce Hamilton, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board.

The proposed wording would have limited marriage to a union between men and women only, locking same-sex couples out of the institution. LGBTI activists launched a campaign in advance of the vote to point out the contradictory nature of the proposal – simply replacing one form of discrimination with another.

Hamilton continued: “The run-up to this vote was a stressful time for our member organisations and LGBTI activists in Switzerland – it is wonderful to see that their great work has paid off. Their campaign helped voters to understand the issues at stake, illustrated that it wasn’t all about taxes and warned people of the inequality they could be voting for unintentionally".