Voters in Switzerland are casting their final votes in a referendum on whether same-sex couples can be allowed to marry.
Voting in person took place on Sunday morning across the rich Alpine country to crown the latest of Switzerland’s regular referendums that give the public a direct voice in policymaking. Most ballots are cast by mail and the polls close at noon local time (1000 GMT).
The Swiss parliament and the executive Federal Council support the “Marriage for All” measure, for which the latest voter polls showed strong support. Switzerland has authorized same-sex civil unions since 2007.
Supporters say the approval would put same-sex couples on equal legal footing with heterosexual couples, by allowing them to adopt children together and facilitating citizenship for same-sex spouses. It would also allow lesbian couples to use regulated sperm donation.
Opponents believe that replacing civil unions with full marital rights would undermine families based on a union between a man and a woman.
The campaign has been plagued with accusations of unfair tactics, with opposing parties denouncing poster tearing, LGBQT hotlines filled with complaints, hostile emails and shouts of insults against activists, and efforts to silence opposing views.
Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million and international prestige due to Geneva’s role as the headquarters of the United Nations in Europe, is traditionally conservative and only extended the right to vote to all its women in 1990.
Already recognized in most European countries
Most Western European countries already recognize same-sex marriage, while most Central and Eastern European countries do not allow marriage between two men or two women.
Even if the Swiss referendum passes, supporters say it will be months before same-sex couples can get married, mainly due to administrative and legislative procedures.
Another issue on Sunday’s ballot is a move spearheaded by left-wing groups to increase taxes on investment and capital income, such as dividends or income from rental properties in Switzerland, as a way to ensure better redistribution and taxation. fairer.
Polls suggest the referendum is unlikely to pass in a country known for its vibrant financial sector and relatively low taxes, and as a haven for many of the world’s richest people.