This week, Switzerland’s federal government announced that an application for an optional referendum against gay marriage had collected enough valid signatures to clear the way for a vote on the subject.
On 18 December 2020, Switzerland’s upper house voted in favour of gay marriage after it was endorsed by a parliamentary majority, clearing the way for a change to Swiss law to make Switzerland the 29th country in the world to allow same sex couples to marry. Many had initially expected a change to the constitution would be required, however the government decided that a legal change was sufficient.
In Switzerland it is possible to call an optional referendum, which allows any bill approved by the Federal Assembly to be put to a nationwide vote. In order to bring about a referendum to overturn a bill, 50,000 valid signatures must be collected within 100 days of publication of the new legislation.
On 27 April 2021, the federal government announced that a group opposed to marriage for all had collected 62,241 valid signatures, passing the 50,000 hurdle.
Those behind the referendum argue that the government is pushing through a bill that takes insufficiently considers the well being of children. They believe that marriage should be reserved for the natural union of men and women and are particularly opposed to lesbien couples being legally allowed to access donated sperm.
A referendum was expected and some pushing for marriage equality have said they are ready to mobilise against the vote.