Image copyright Le Monde
The Swiss government has bowed to public opinion and approved same-sex marriage, following a nationwide referendum on Tuesday night.
A majority of voters in Switzerland – about 60% – supported the gay marriage proposals.
The government’s position had not been decided before the vote. The Swiss parliament and president had made a statement offering the government’s backing for the idea.
Switzerland’s Catholic Church had opposed the proposals.
‘A turning point’
“Now we are finally allowed to belong to a social group as the other traditional couples are,” said Louise Wehrli, one of two women who helped to organise the ballot on gay marriage.
She explained that she and Isabel Brännemann, a woman with whom she was campaigning, had long wanted to have a marriage, but not necessarily a heterosexual one.
If the law allowed them to marry, a dream they had always considered, the sight of two women getting married together would be “just like normal other heterosexual marriages”, she told a Swiss newspaper.
Image copyright Le Monde Image caption The Swiss parliament had never officially supported same-sex marriage proposals
Alluding to arguments that same-sex marriage could lead to heterosexual couples wanting to tie the knot too, Ms Wehrli said: “We would be prepared to share the fight against discrimination against heterosexuals with them.
“But if they want to have a civil partnership, too, then we can wait for their choice, since we have enough for now.”
Christian Adams, an American politics lecturer at the University of London, said the government’s views represented a “slight turn” from its opposition before the referendum vote.
“The vote will be a turning point for the Catholic Church in Europe,” he told the BBC.
But, he added, “Switzerland as a nation is also not like Britain where religion has much more sway and is very much part of civic life.”
Same-sex couples are currently able to marry in Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Spain.
There are more than 5,000 same-sex couples in Switzerland. Most of them marry in France.