Swiss campaigners secure same-sex marriage referendum

Same-sex wedding cake. / Sara Valenti/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Apr 29, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Campaigners in Switzerland have gathered enough signatures to secure a referendum on same-sex marriage, after the country’s parliament passed a bill last December called “Marriage for All.”

More than 61,000 valid signatures were submitted in favor of giving the country’s 8.5 million population a final say on the law.

The country, officially known as the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic with a tradition of direct democracy. Members of the public can force a referendum on new laws if they collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days of the official publication of the act of parliament.

Switzerland has recognized civil unions for same-sex couples since 2007, following a 2005 referendum. In December 2020, parliament approved the legalization of same-sex marriage and introduced it into the Swiss Civil Code.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that the Federal Chancellery in Bern, Switzerland’s de facto capital, announced April 27 that a non-partisan committee had submitted the necessary signatures to hold a referendum under the slogan “Yes to Marriage and Family, No to Marriage for All.”

A rival petition, organized by the political movement Operation Libero, has gathered more than 100,000 signatures in favor of the new law.

Switzerland’s Catholic bishops have yet to comment on the referendum. But in December they said that legalizing same-sex marriage was “fraught with numerous administrative, legal and ethical difficulties.”

“[T]he Catholic Church is primarily entrusted with the sacrament of marriage. She celebrates before God the union of man and woman as a common, stable, and reproductive life laid out in love,” the Swiss bishops’ conference said in a Dec. 4 statement.

“This is why [we are] convinced, also with regard to civil marriage, that the use of the term ‘marriage’ should not be extended to any connection between two people regardless of their gender. Such a use of the term would bring about an equality that, in [our] opinion, cannot exist.”

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