Switzerland became the latest country to legalize same-sex marriage by a nearly two-thirds majority through a nationwide referendum held on Sunday. As per the Federal Statistical Office of Switzerland, 64.1% of the total voters voted in favor of same-sex marriage, with the “Marriage for All” proposal winning a majority in all 26 cantons of Switzerland. The latest move marks a monumental development in LGBT rights discourse in Switzerland.

Until the referendum, same-sex couples had the only option of entering into a registered civil partnership, while the referendum marks a shift from civil partnership for same-sex couples which had been legal since 2007 to full marriage rights at par with heterosexual couples.

Even though civil partnerships stood legally approximated to marriage in many aspects, there were still significant differences between the rights which heterosexual married couples had over and above same-sex civilly partnered couples. For instance, naturalization was difficult in case of same-sex couples since the same-sex foreign partners of a Swiss individual could not get Swiss citizenship despite the civil partnership entered into between the two. Other significant differences included restrictions on adoption of children by same-sex couples and access to reproductive medicine or legally regulated sperm donation in their case. With the amended law, the existent registered civil partnerships can be converted into a marriage, but can no longer be re-entered.

Rahul Garg