Switzerland has taken a major step on the path to equality after its parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a law to pass same-sex marriage.
The council of states – the upper house of Switzerland’s legislature – voted by by 22 votes to 15 to approve landmark legislation to make same-sex marriage a reality. Just seven politicians abstained from the vote.
It’s a huge moment for a country that has lagged behind most of Europe when it comes to LGBT+ rights, and is the culmination of a seven-year campaign.
“We have been waiting for this for seven years,” Olga Baranova of the Marriage For All campaign told Le Temps. “The emotions are very strong.”
The bill first introduced by the Green Party in 2013, and several versions of the text have since been debated. One of the central questions was whether a constitutional change was required to make it happen or whether a change of law would be enough.
Article 14 of Switzerland’s constitution states that “the right to marry and to have a family is guaranteed.” Those in favour of a legal change argued there was no need to change this because it already accommodates marriages of any kind.
The majority council of states agreed and rejected a motion that would have required a nationwide constitutional referendum on marriage equality, which would have delayed the law even further.
The push for equality was helped in part by progressive parties’ electoral gains in October that shifted parliament more to the left.
It’s been a long time coming for the Swiss LGBT+ community, whose conservative country has been slow to enact positive change: the first law banning LGBT+ discrimination only passed as recently as this February.
It’s not the end of the road though, and the next battle will concern LGBT+ couples’ access to sperm donors.
While the vast majority of Swiss people are now in favour of same-sex marriage, the debate around insemination remains controversial and is likely to be the subject of a national referendum.