Switzerland: Forced referendum on gay marriage soon

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(Reuters) – Swiss voters will get final say on whether same-sex couples can marry, after opponents gathered enough signatures to force a binding referendum on a 2020 law allowing them to wed.

That legislation also allowed transgender people to change their legal gender with a declaration, in a major change for a country that has lagged [behind] other parts of western Europe in gay rights.

The Swiss government certified that opponents had gathered enough support to call a referendum, under the nation’s system of direct democracy. It will in May set a date for the vote, which could come in September at the earliest, a spokesman said.

Opponents had decried [so-called] ‘fake marriages’ and said only a man and a woman could wed.

A survey commissioned by a gay advocacy group, Pink Cross, in 2020, showed more than 80% of Swiss support same-sex marriage, suggesting the law would take effect even if subjected to a referendum.

France legalised same-sex marriages in 2013, Germany followed in 2017, and the US Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that the Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry.

-Michael Shields and John Miller

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