This article was published on September 29th, 2021
The world is a crazy place where it seems that the bad outweighs the good. However, there is always good to be found, and if we look hard enough, we can find it at our fingertips. To help us through hard times, Switzerland just voted on and passed a law to legalize gay marriage. Same-sex civil partnerships have been legal in Switzerland for some time, and on average, 700 new partnerships are formed per year. Still, they do not grant us the same rights as straight people have – most importantly, helping a partner gain citizenship.
The vote for equality took place last Sunday, and it also forwards our fellow European community members the right to adopt and live equally amongst our heterosexual counterparts. It’s a landmark referendum because Switzerland was one of the last countries in western Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. The referendum passed with a large majority, too.
The ruling is now creating a clear divide between Eastern and Western Europe. It is a turning point for our community’s rights in Europe. In Western Europe, we can legally get married in most countries, but a few like Italy still have not legalized this. Meanwhile, in Eastern and Central Europe, our community faces fierce backlash from opposition groups in countries like Hungary and Poland. In worst-case scenarios, there are constitutional bans on teaching our existence through literature and cultural methods.
The president of a pro-LGBT committee, and leader of the Marriage for All movement, Maria von Känel, stated, “It is discrimination based on sexual orientation” that our community has not been able to have basic civil liberties like a shared bank account in the country. She, herself, is in a same-sex partnership with a loving wife and two children. She decided to take a stance because she believes everyone should be treated equally.
Swiss LGBT organizations report that up to 30,000 children are currently being fostered or raised by same-sex children in the country – so the opposition must be mad to want to deny our right to have access to the same standard of living as they do. After all, that is a lot of children who could be potential without a home. The opposition launched a counter-campaign under the name of “no” (how creative!) because they feel that our right to a fair life undermines the traditional values of marriage. The opposition claims that the new law’s passing means that society is bursting at the seams. They plan on “saving what there is to save” by hoping to further reduce our rights through legislation that restricts same-sex surrogacy or egg donors.
Känel highlights that although this is a landmark moment, there are still many details that have yet to be discussed. Such as if both parents get parental leave for adopting a new child, setting up safe spaces for LGBT youth, or even banning conversion therapy.
The event makes it clear that we are headed in the right direction for equality worldwide. There will always be opposition groups that want to take away our rights, but they might just be a little gay themselves. The evidence that points towards homophobia and the likelihood of homosexual tendencies is abundant. Regardless of their reasons, it is great to see that our community can stand in solidarity, get support from the heterosexual community, and make a change for our fellows living abroad. Let’s give a big round of applause for Switzerland and welcome their new law. It will change the lives of many people in the country and bring many a lot of happiness.