Since 1 January 2007, gay couples in Switzerland have been able to register their partnerships under Swiss federal law. At a federal level, same sex partnerships are governed by rules known in French as LPart and in German as PartG, rather than by laws covering heterosexual marriage.
A number of Swiss cantons offered same sex couples something akin to registered partnerships ahead of the federal government, which adopted laws after 58% of Swiss voted in favour of the move in 2005. The canton of Geneva has allowed registration of same sex partnerships since May 2001 and the canton of Zurich since 2002.
Close to 20 years since the LPart laws came into force, Switzerland’s federal statistics office has published statistics showing same sex divorce rates from 2007 to 2015. These are the first statistics available on gay separation rates.
The newspaper SonntagsZeitung’s analysis of these figures shows that 4% more same sex couples split than heterosexual ones. Between 2007 and 2015, 9.8% of the 8,008 same sex couples registered, separated, compared to 5.8% of heterosexual couples.
According to SonntagsZeitung, Swiss figures are in line with other countries. A study in Sweden covering the period from 1995 to 2002 showed a 20% divorce rate among same-sex couples, 30% among lesbiens, and 13% among heterosexuals.
A sociologist at Zurich University said he thinks shared investments, like having a child are very important for cementing relationships. Religion sometimes brings another element. Given widespread religious opposition to homosexual relationships and the challenges around adopting children these two things are less present in same sex relationships.
A sociologist at Lausanne University thinks there is another reason. She says “The higher separation rate is because Switzerland does not offer gay couples the possibility of full mariage. Mariage would permit gay couples to better define roles in their relationships and guarantee greater stability.”
Bastian Baumann, director of Pink Cross, finds it hard to believe gay couples separate more than heterosexual ones. He thinks the opposite is true. He cites a British study that shows same-sex couples separate less often and stay together longer. The pink cross website states that gay couple in Switzerland stay together an average of 15 years.