Swiss gays get partnership rights but no marriage

June 21, 2004

GENEVA — Switzerland's parliament on Friday approved new legislation setting up a form of civil partnership which gives homosexual couples many of the same social and taxation rights as married partners.

Switzerland's senate, the Council of States, passed the law by 33 votes to five after the lower house, the National Council, had already voted for the legislation by 112 votes to 51.

However the legislation might still need to pass a referendum if a small right-wing party, the Federal Democratic Union (UDF), succeeds in gathering 50,000 signatures to petition for a national vote.

Although narrower than France's civil solidarity pact by only applying to homosexuals and not unmarried heterosexual couples, Switzerland's "recorded partnership" also sets out mainly civil and administrative rights and is meant to be distinct from marriage.

It explicitly rules out adoption and any form of artificial insemination or medically-assisted procreation.

The legislation was opposed mainly by Christian Democrat or right-wing parties.

Several hundred requests for recorded partnerships are expected to be filed every year, according to the Swiss government.

Only one of Switzerland's 23 cantons, the deeply catholic southern region of Valais, opposed the project after the federal government sounded out their opinion on the issue.

Some cantonal governments already had similar legislation applying to administrative issues which are under their control. – AFP

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Restricted gay marriages stir few European emotions [27/02/2004]



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