Swiss vote ‘yes’ for same-sex marriage in referendum

A couple pose with a slice of wedding cake at an event following the referendum on same-sex marriage, Bern, Switzerland. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Swiss voters have decided by voting to allow same-sex couples to marry, in a referendum that brings the Alpine nation into line with many others in western Europe. Official results showed the measure passed with 64.1% of voters in favor and won a majority in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons.

  • Switzerland’s parliament and the governing federal council supported the “Marriage for All” measure, and pre-referendum polls showed solid backing. Switzerland has authorized same-sex civil partnerships since 2007.
  • Supporters said approval would put same-sex partners on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples by allowing them to adopt children together and facilitating citizenship for same-sex spouses. It would also permit lesbian couples to use regulated sperm donation.
  • Opponents argued that replacing civil partnerships with full marriage rights would undermine families based on a union between one man and one woman.
  • The campaign has been rife with allegations of unfair tactics, with opposing sides decrying the ripping down of posters, LGBT hotlines getting flooded with complaints, hostile emails and shouted insults against campaigners, and efforts to silence opposing views.
  • Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million, is traditionally conservative and only extended full voting rights to women in federal elections in 1971, with one canton holding out on full voting rights for municipal elections until 1990.
  • Most countries in western Europe already recognize same-sex marriage, while most of those in central and Eastern Europe do not allow wedlock involving two men or two women.
  • Supporters say it could still be months before same-sex couples can get married, mainly because of administrative and legislative procedures.

Results showed 64.9% voting against it in a country known for its vibrant financial sector and relatively low taxes, and as a haven for many of the world’s richest people. No canton voted in favor.