GENEVA — In Switzerland, a controversial same-sex marriage referendum has been resoundingly approved by voters of the conservative, rich Alpine country.
Nearly two-thirds of Swiss citizens, more than 64 percent, have voted to legalize same-sex marriage and grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual partners.
All 26 Swiss cantons, even the most traditional, Appenzell Inner Rhoden, accepted the proposal.
Backers of the same-sex marriage campaign erupted into applause and cheers when the results were announced.
A member of the marriage campaign committee, Matthias Erhardt, called the outcome a big achievement and the crowning vote of a 40-year struggle in the country for same-sex marriage equality.
The government also welcomed the result, saying it put an end to current existing inequalities in the treatment of people and an end to the imposition of the state on how its citizens should lead their lives.
Under the new law, same-sex couples in Switzerland will be able to jointly adopt children. Lesbian couples can access sperm donations and medically assisted procreation.
Opponents of the initiative said this provision threatens the well-being of children and effectively deprives children conceived by a sperm donor of the right to a father. Swiss law does not allow the identity of a sperm donor to be revealed until the child reaches the age of 18.
The Swiss People’s Party national councilor, Verena Herzog, said the new law opens the floodgates to many potentially dangerous practices.
Herzog warned the expansion of reproductive medicine has not just opened a small door, but a garage door has been opened. She said homosexual men also will want to be able to benefit from reproductive medicine.
Opponents say they will not abandon the issue, noting that the matter could come up for another vote in the future simply by gathering 50,000 signatures of Swiss citizens.
The outcome of the vote makes Switzerland the 30th country worldwide to allow same-sex marriage. Switzerland’s minister of justice says the first gay and lesbian marriage ceremonies will be allowed as of July 2022.