Words: Will Stroude; Image: Pexels
Switzerland has voted overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality and adoption in a national referendum on the issue.
Almost two-thirds of voters (64.1%) backed same-sex marriage and adoption in Sunday's poll (26 September), paving the way for LGBTQ people to wed and expand their families. The first weddings are expected to take place in July 2022.
The newly approved measures will make it possible for same-sex couples to adopt unrelated children and for married lesbian couples to conceive via sperm donation.
Switzerland introduced civil unions for same-sex couples in 2007, which did not confer all the same rights as marriage. The country is one of the last remaining nations in Western Europe to legalise equal marriage, with Italy and some smaller Principalities such as Andorra and San Marino now remaining the only states in the region without marriage equality.
Swiss legislators had already approved the changes needed to introduce equal marriage and adoptions last December, before anti-LGBTQ campaigners forced a referendum on the issue.
Speaking to Attitude following Sunday's historic result, Josua Hasler, a campaigner for Marriage for Everyone in Switzerland, said: "Most importantly we have gained more societal acceptance as well as inclusion. Being LGBTQ+ is no longer something unusual, we are a part of the society and accepted for who we are. It is this signal that is most important to the LGBTQ+ community in Switzerland.
Campaigners for the LGBTQ rights group Marriage for Everyone in Switzerland
"Hate crimes and discriminations against the LGBTQ+ community are still present and suicide rates among gay and lesbian youth is three times higher than heterosexuals, and for transgender [people] even six times. This vote is a milestone in reducing fatalities, stigmatisation, harassment and will help LGBTQ+ people accept themselves & support in their identity crisis that many still face."
Switzerland is traditionally conservative and only extended the vote to women in federal elections in 1971, with one region failing to give women the vote in local elections until 1990.
The country now becomes the 30th state worldwide to introduce marriage equality since The Netherlands became the first nation in modern history to legalise same-sex weddings in 2001.
Last year, Costa Rica became the world's 29th nation to introduce marriage equality, and the first country in Central America to do so.