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Tens of thousands rally in Switzerland to legalize same-sex marriage

According to recent polling by Swiss LGBTQ+ equality rights group Pink Cross, 82% of the Swiss population supports same-sex marriage

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Roman Heggl, Managing Director of Swiss LGBTQ+ rights group Pink Cross (Screenshot EURONEWS April 2021)

ZURICH – Swiss authorities estimate that well over 20,000 people participated in a combined protest and Pride march Saturday in the city of Zurich, nestled at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. With the slogan, “You can do it. Marriage for everyone now,” Zurich Pride’s organizers saw massive support for the upcoming referendum on September 26.

The groundwork for the upcoming referendum by Swiss voters came last December when the “Marriage for All” legislation passed in the National Council, which is the Federal Assembly’s lower house, by a 136-48 vote margin, even with the conservative Swiss People’s Party holding a 53-seat majority. The Council of States, the Federal Assembly’s upper house, approved the bill by a 24-11 vote margin.

A survey that Pink Cross, a Swiss LGBTQ advocacy group, conducted this past February found 81 percent of Swiss voters support same-sex marriage, including 67 percent of respondents who said they are members of the Swiss People’s Party.

Conservatives however and opponents of the measure were able to collect more than the 50,000 signatures required to prompt a referendum on the measure Mannschaft, a Swiss LGBTQ magazine, reported.

Swiss voters in February 2020 overwhelmingly approved a bill that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Neighboring France, Germany and Austria are among the European countries that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Under current Swiss law, same-sex couples are only eligible for official civil unions, which are not on equal footing as marriages. If a majority of the country for the legalization of same-sex marriage this would also allow couples to adopt children.

According to recent polling by Swiss LGBTQ+ equality rights group Pink Cross, 82% of the Swiss population supports same-sex marriage.

The law if approved, follows the recognition of LGBTQ+ marriage in many European countries like Germany, Austria, France and the Netherlands.

Current hardline actions taken in Hungary and Poland against the rights of LGBTQ+ people has been condemned by the European Union, although Switzerland is not an EU member country.

Switzerland to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage:

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Hungarian lawmakers set stage for anti-LGBTQ referendum

Prime minister under fire for ongoing crackdown

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The Hungarian Parliament (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a resolution that paves the way for a referendum on LGBTQ issues.

Reuters noted Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is running for re-election in 2022, earlier this year proposed a referendum on a law that that bans the promotion of homosexuality and sex-reassignment surgery to minors in Hungary.

“The Hungarian government proposes that citizens should have a chance to express their stance on the issues of gender propaganda,” Deputy Minister Balázs Orbán told Hungarian MPs, according to Reuters. “We are committed. We believe that we … have to say no to LGBTQ propaganda in schools carried out with the help of NGOs and media, without parental consent.”

Orbán continues to face criticism over his government’s efforts to curtail LGBTQ rights in Hungary.

Lawmakers late last year amended the country’s constitution to define family as “based on marriage and the parent-child relation” with “the mother is a woman, the father a man” and effectively banned same-sex couples from adopting children. Hungarian MPs in April 2020 approved a bill that bans transgender and intersex people from legally changing their gender.

Hungary in August issued a decree that restricted the sale of children’s books with LGBTQ-specific themes.

The European Commission in July announced legal action against Hungary after the law that will go before voters took effect.

Orbán in September said Brussels has withheld funds for the country’s pandemic recovery plan because of his government’s anti-LGBTQ policies. An EU spokesperson said LGBTQ issues did not factor into the decision to withhold the money.

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Netherlands formally apologies for forced sterilization of trans, intersex people

Gender Change Act was in place from 1985 to 2014

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government on Saturday formally apologized to transgender and intersex people who were forced to become sterile in order to legally change their gender.

The Gender Change Act, which was also known as the Transgender Act, was in effect in the Netherlands from 1985 until its repeal in 2014.

Education, Culture and Science Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven and Law Minister Sander Dekker last year on behalf of the Dutch government apologized to trans and intersex people who had undergone forcible sterilizations. The Dutch government also agreed to pay 5,000 euros ($5,633.68) to around 2,000 trans people who had sterilization surgeries.

A ceremony did not take place because of the pandemic.

Van Engelshoven issued Saturday’s the formal apology during a meeting with trans and intersex people that took place at the Ridderzaal, a 12th century building in The Hague that the Dutch government uses for speeches from the country’s royal family and other important ceremonial events.

“For decades we have had a law that has harmed transgender and intersex people,” said van Engelshoven. “People have undergone medical treatment that they did not want, or have been forced to postpone becoming themselves. Today, on behalf of the entire Cabinet, I make our deepest apologies. Recognition of and apologies for what has been done to these people and which has caused a lot of grief for those involved is extremely important and is central to this special day in the Ridderzaal.”

Transgender Netwerk Nederland in a press release said the Netherlands is the first country in the world to issue such an apology. The advocacy group notes the Dutch government last month began to compensate trans and intersex people who were forcibly sterilized, but adds the amount of money they will receive remains too low.

“The government has structurally disadvantaged and damaged transgender and intersex people for almost 30 years,” said Willemijn van Kempen, who spearheaded the campaign for the formal apology. “It is important that it now apologizes for that.”

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Europe

Switzerland marriage equality law to take effect July 1

Voters on Sept. 26 overwhelmingly approved ‘Marriage for All’ statute

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(Public domain photo)

BERN, Switzerland — The Swiss government on Wednesday announced same-sex couples as of July 1 will be able to legally marry in the country.

The announcement comes less than two months after Swiss voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of the “Marriage for All” law. Switzerland will join neighboring France, Germany, Austria and other European counties that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“It’s a great achievement,” Maria von Känel, co-president of the “Marriage for All” campaign, told the Los Angeles Blade after the Sept. 26 referendum. “Our partnerships and families are now recognized equally and legally.”

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