Swiss voters turned out on Sunday to vote in a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage, adoption for same-sex couples, and access to sperm donation for married women couples. The successful vote marks Switzerland as one of the last Western European countries to approve same-sex marriage and the thirtieth country in the world to do so.
Results show that the measure passed with about 64 percent of people voting in favor of same-sex marriage, reported the Associated Press. The measure won a majority in each of the country’s 26 cantons.
More than 50 percent of Swiss citizens participated in the vote, according to Agence Presse France.
The country has had legal same-sex civil partnerships since 2007 and registers about 700 partnerhips per year. The change in the law will make it easier for foreign spouses of Swiss citizens to get citizenship.
“It is a historic day for Switzerland, a historic day when it comes to equality for same-sex couples, and it is also an important day for the whole LGBT community,” Jan Muller, a member of the vote “yes” national committee, told AFP.
“The Swiss have dropped a massive ‘yes’ into the ballot box,” Olga Baranova, a spokesperson for the committee, said.
“Today does not change my country,” Baranova said. “Today reflects the change of mentality over the last 20 years. It is really the reflection of a very broad and very important acceptance of LGBT people in society.”
Leading up to Sunday’s vote, both sides of the referendum accused each other of tearing down posters and hostile campaigners. Opponents of marriage equality said that the change would destroy traditional family values — specifically that it would end fatherhood.
The referendum also followed a lengthy battle for marriage equality in the country of 8.6 million people. In December 2020, the Swiss parliament approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriages. However, opponents gathered enough signatures — 50,000 — to put the bill to a referendum due to the country’s direct democracy system.
Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told AFP the first same-sex marriages should be able to take place from July 2022.
“Whoever loves each other and wants to get married will be able to do so, regardless of whether it is two men, two women, or a man and a woman,” Keller-Sutter said. “The state does not have to tell citizens how they should lead their lives.”