Registered partnership in Switzerland

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Switzerland has allowed registered partnerships for same-sex couples since 1 January 2007.

Registered partnerships[edit]

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe
  Foreign marriages recognized
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples

Includes laws that have not yet gone into effect.

In a nationwide referendum on 5 June 2005, the Swiss people approved by 58% a registered partnership law, granting same-sex couples the same rights and protections as opposite-sex couples, except:

  • joint adoption of children
  • fertility treatments
  • facilitated Swiss naturalisation of the foreign partner. Swiss laws allow a faster way for a married spouse to become a Swiss citizen, but do not recognise same sex marriages conducted in foreign countries instead classing them as civil partnerships.

However, in terms of next of kin status, taxation, social security, insurance, and shared possession of a dwelling, same-sex couples are granted the same rights as married couples.

The official title of the same-sex union is "eingetragene Partnerschaft" in German, "partenariat enregistré" in French and "unione domestica registrata" in Italian. The bill was passed by the National Council, 111 to 72, on 3 December 2003 and by the Council of States on 3 June 2004, with minor changes.[1][2] The National Council approved it again on 10 June but the conservative Federal Democratic Union collected signatures to force a referendum.[3][4] Subsequently the Swiss people voted on 5 June 2005 with 58% in favor of the bill.[5] The law came into effect on 1 January 2007.[6]

Same-sex marriages formed outside Switzerland will be recognised as registered partnerships within Switzerland. Switzerland was the first nation to pass a same-sex union law by referendum.

Canton laws[edit]

"Same-sex partnerships are allowed in Switzerland." Image from a 2016 cantonal government publication for refugees.

The Canton of Geneva has had a partnership law on cantonal level since 2001. It grants unmarried couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, many rights, responsibilities and protections that married couples have. However, it does not allow benefits in taxation, social security, or health insurance premiums (unlike the federal law). The origin of the law lies in the French Civil solidarity pact law.[7][8][9][10]

On 22 September 2002, the Canton of Zurich passed a same-sex partnership law by referendum that goes further than Geneva's law, but requires couples to live together for six months before registering.[11]

In July 2004, the Canton of Neuchâtel passed a law recognizing unmarried couples.[12][13]

Registered partnerships for same-sex couples are included in the Constitution of the Canton of Fribourg.[14] In May 2004, voters approved the new Constitution with 58.03% in favor and 41.97% against.[15] It took effect on 1 January 2005.

Same-sex marriage[edit]

Same-sex marriage for Switzerland is supported by the Green Party, according to its 2007 electoral manifesto.,[16] as well as some politicians from the Social Democratic Party and the Liberals.

In December 2013 the Green Liberal Party, aiming for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, submitted a bill to parliament.[17] The Committee for Legal Affairs of the National Council approved this parliamentary initiative by 12:9 and 1 abstention on 20 February 2015.[18] It now must be examined by the upper house. In May 2015, a petition supporting the bill. The signatures collected will be given to the Committee for Legal Affairs of the Council of States before they deliberate the bill, hoping to sway them into supporting it.[19][20]

On 1 September 2015, the upper house's Justice Committee voted 7 to 5 to approve the initiative, paving the way for a referendum on the constitutional amendment.[21]

In March 2015, the Swiss Federal Council released a Governmental report about marriage and new rights for families. It opens the possibility to introduce a registered partnership for straight couples as well as same-sex marriage for gay and lesbian couples.[22] The Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga in charge of the Federal Department of Justice and Police also stated she hoped personally that gay and lesbian couples would soon be allowed to marry.[23]

The Christian Democrats' popular initiative "For the couple and the family"[edit]

The Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland (CVP/PDC) started in 2011 with gathering signatures for a popular initiative entitled "For the couple and the family - No to the penalty of marriage" (German: Für Ehe und Familie – gegen die Heiratsstrafe; French: Pour le couple et la famille - Non à la pénalisation du mariage). This initiative would change article 14 of the Swiss Federal Constitution and aimed to put equal fiscal rights and equal social security benefits between married couples and unmarried cohabiting couples. However, the text aimed to introduce as well in the Constitution for the first time ever the definition of marriage, which would be the sole "union between a man and a woman".[24]

In November 2012, signature gathering ended and the initiative was submitted. The Swiss Federal Council reviewed the initiative and decided to support it. In October 2013, it formally proposed the parliament to recommend voters to approve the initiative.[25]

On 10 December 2014, the lower chamber of the Parliament discussed the initiative. The Greens proposed to amend the bill stating that « any forms of unions » couldn't be penalised and the Green Liberals proposed to amend the bill such as « the marriage and all the other forms of union defined by the Law » couldn't be penalised.[26]

The debates opposed mainly the Swiss People's Party's MPs and the Christian Democrats to the Green Liberals, the Greens, the Social Democrats and the Conservative Democrats. The Liberals are mostly divided on the issue.[27] The Swiss People Party and the Christian Democrats' MPs opposed any form of homophobia. On the other hand, the main other parties pointed out the discrimination the initiative would introduce and furthermore called on openness for a future definition of marriage including same-sex marriage. Some MP's even called the Christian Democrats as a « retrograde » party.[28]

After having rejected both counterpropositions of the Greens and the Green Liberals, the National Council finally approved the counterproposition elaborated by the Commission for Economic Affairs and Taxation keeping the same spirit of the initiative but removing any definition of marriage being solely possible between a man and a woman. The counterproposition was approved by 102–86[29] thus rejecting the popular initiative and recommending the Swiss electorate to reject the initiative and to accept the counterproposition.

The Council of States (Senate) approved on 4 March 2015, by 24–19,[30] the counterproposition voted on 10 December 2014 by the lower house thus rejecting de facto the Christian Democrats' initiative. The debates in the upper house also focused mainly on the marriage's definition that would introduce a discrimination towards the LGBT community, though the idea of equal fiscal rights and equal social security benefits between married couples and unmarried cohabiting couples was unopposed.[31] A few Liberal Party members changed their mind, causing the counterproposal to fail in the Council of State. Subsequently in June 2015 a conciliation conference between both chambers of parliament decided to recommend rejecting the original initiative.[32] On 19 June 2015, the formal order of parliament recommending voters to reject the initiative was published.[33]

On 17 November 2015, the Federal Council also recommended rejecting the initiative. It supported the initiative two years earlier, but now was obliged to change its position because the parliament is opposed.[34][35]

The Swiss people will vote on the Christian Democrats' proposal in a referendum on 28 February 2016.[36] If voted yes, it would define marriage as a "durable cohabitation of a man and a woman", that "must not be disadvantaged in comparison of other life styles",[37] thus making same sex marriage constitutionally prohibited.

The Young Christian Democrats of Zurich, the most populous canton, declared their opposition to the initiative of their parent party.[38]

Public opinion[edit]

According to an Ifop poll conducted in May 2013, 63% of Swiss supported allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.[39]

After the National Council's Committee of Law Affairs' decision to approve same-sex marriage, two opinion polls released on 22 February 2015 showed a support of 54% (Léger Marketing for Blick[40]) and 71% (GfS Zurich for SonntagsZeitung[41]) allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Parliament gives green light to "gay marriages"
  2. ^ Parliament gives its blessing to gay couples
  3. ^ Fight goes on for gay couples
  4. ^ Government presses for gay-couple rights
  5. ^ Gay couples win partnership rights
  6. ^ First same-sex union registered in Switzerland
  7. ^ Homosexuals a step closer to equal rights
  8. ^ Switzerland’s first “gay marriages” take place in Geneva
  9. ^ Registered partnerships in Switzerland
  10. ^ (French) Loi sur le partenariat
  11. ^ Zurich grants gay couples more rights
  12. ^ (French) Partenariat enregistré cantonal
  13. ^ (French) Le pacs gagne du terrain
  14. ^ "Constitution du canton de Fribourg" (PDF) (in French). Canton of Fribourg. 16 May 2004. Article 14 
  15. ^ (French) La nouvelle Constitution du canton de Fribourg a été adoptée par le peuple fribourgeois
  16. ^ (French) Green Party - Equality Policy
  17. ^ Swiss Greens pushing for gay marriage and tax equality
  18. ^ (French) Entrée en matière sur le projet de loi sur les avoirs de potentats, National Council, retrieved 20 february 2015
  19. ^ Ehe für Alle
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Ständerat sagt Ja zur Homo-Ehe". 1 September 2015. 
  22. ^ (French) Rapport du Conseil fédéral - Modernisation du droit de la famille, Federal Department of Justice and Police, retrieved on 27 May 2015
  23. ^ (French) Sommaruga espère que les homosexuels pourront bientôt se marier, L'Hebdo, retrieved on 27 May 2015
  24. ^ Eidgenössische Volksinitiative 'Für Ehe und Familie - gegen die Heiratsstrafe'
  25. ^ Schweiz: Ehe-Verbot für Schwule und Lesben geplant, 25 October 2013,
  26. ^ (French) 13.085 n Pour le couple et la famille - Non à la pénalisation du mariage. Initiative populaire, Swiss Parliament, retrieved on 16 January 2015
  27. ^ "Swiss Political Parties Reveal Their Colours". Swissinfo. September 11, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  28. ^ (French) Sur l’imposition des couples, le PDC est taxé de rétrograde, Tribune de Genève, retrieved 16 January 2015
  29. ^ (French) Vote n° 49.11275, Swiss Parliament, retrieved on 16 January 2015
  30. ^ (French) Conseil des États - Procès-verbal de vote 13.085-2, Swiss Parliament, retrieved on 5 March 2015
  31. ^ (French) Le Conseil des États en bref (4 mars 2015), Swiss Parliament, retrieved on 5 March 2015
  32. ^ Einigungskonferenz sagt Nein zur CVP-Initative, 13 June 2015,
  33. ^ Arrêté fédéral concernant l’initiative populaire «Pour le couple et la famille – Non à la pénalisation du mariage»,
  34. ^ Bundesrat gegen CVP-Initiative, 18 November 2015,
  35. ^ Bundesrat lanciert Abstimmungskampf zur Volksinitiative gegen die «Heiratsstrafe», 17 November 2015,
  36. ^ Kriminelle Ausländer, Gotthard und Heiratsstrafe, 7 October 2014, NZZ
  37. ^ [1], retrieved on 10 October 2015
  38. ^ JCVP Kanton Zürich: Nein zur Ehedefinition, 6. November 2015,
  39. ^ (French) Enquête sur la droitisation des opinions publiques européennes
  40. ^ (German) Mehrheit der Schweizer für Ehe zwischen Homosexuellen,, retrieved on 22 February 2015
  41. ^ (German) 71 Prozent der Schweizer für Homo-Ehe,, retrieved on 22 February 20152015

External links[edit]