Last week, the commune of Lausanne rejected a couple’s application to become Swiss after they refused to shake hands with officials of the opposite sex, according to a report by Keystone-ATS published in Le Matin.
Their application was rejected on the grounds that this attitude does not respect the equality of men and women, a principle set out in Switzerland’s constitution and a fundamental element of Swiss society.
Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand, a local politician who interviewed the couple this spring, told Keystone-ATS that the couple’s application was rejected by a majority of the municipality on his advice.
According to the commune, the couple’s refusal to shake hands with members of the opposite sex was a key part of their decision to reject their application. In addition, during the interview the pair refused to respond to questions posed by those of opposing gender.
This decision is important because it has significance beyond Lausanne and reminds people of the principle of equality between men and women and underlines the fact that the constitution is above bigotry, according to Hildbrand.
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Over the years, refusal to shake the hands of teachers of the opposite sex has made the news in Switzerland.
The pair now have three options: challenge the decision, apply again or drop their application altogether.