No plus for Swiss

With pride month celebrations colouring in every corner of the school this June, the path for equality and rights for the LGBTQ+ community at ISL is only getting brighter. That said, as ISL takes steps towards diversity and inclusion, so does the country around us.

Referendums, voting and laws passed by the Swiss government regarding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community have all circulated in the media over the past few months, but what does the situation for the Swiss community really look like?

Since the 1940s, the country has been steadily liberalizing civil rights for the community, making it one of the world’s safer countries for it. 

In the last 20 years, the Swiss government has enacted legislation pertaining to LGBTQ+ rights in workplace environment (1999), nationwide recognition of same-sex couples (2007), and adoption (2018), to name a few. 2020 was a significant landmark with the passage of a law preventing hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community. 63.1% of Swiss voters gave their backing in this referendum, endorsed by 80% of Vaud’s voters. This clearly signals a huge shift in mindset: from tolerance to integration and acceptance.

However, there’s one big step left for Switzerland to take to achieve positive change and equality. Same-sex couples have been able to enter a “registered partnership” but this does not include the same rights as full marriage, especially when it comes to citizenship and joint adoption of children. Switzerland today lags behind almost every other western European country in recognizing same-sex marriage. Inevitably, there exist pockets of citizens who are against same-sex marriage for either religious or social reasons.

The bill for same-sex marriage was actually initiated seven years ago and was approved last December. The public strongly supports same-sex marriage, with support from about 82% of voters as of November 2020.

And then the country took a step back.

Around 59,000 verified signatures opposing the new law were collected by a committee in Bern two days after the collection deadline ran out to challenge the “marriage for all” law approved in parliament last December (isn’t it great how democracy works like that?).

On September 26th 2021, Switzerland will hold a referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage (again). But this time, there is hope that Switzerland’s situation on LGBTQ+ rights can be changed for good.

Switzerland has come a long way in not only accepting, but also integrating the LGBTQ+ community into local society. The journey is still far from over. As ISL students, we need to recognize our role in learning about and changing the country we live in by keeping the conversation going. We can reach equality, one step at a time.