On Sunday, February 9th, the Swiss government passed a law that was a win for the LGTBQ+ community. Public homophobia became an amendment to the anti-discrimination law, which previously didn’t protect members of the LGBTQ+ community. The law also prohibits any homophobic remarks to be said on TV, social media, and in public venues.
Opponents of the law argued that freedom of speech would be compromised, but ultimately, the amendment was passed with a 63. 1% vote for the law. Following the vote, 50,000 signatures were collected as a national referendum by opponents of the law arguing that the Swiss people have the right “to express opinions that don’t please everybody,” according to their website.
In response to the referendum, politicians argued that the citizens were free to make comments in private, but would be penalized for making the same comments in public.
Additionally, lawmakers worked to include the transgender community in a separate bill, but this portion was rejected due to the wording being “too vague” when presented to the Council of States, Switzerland’s higher parliamentary chamber.
“The law would not make homophobia disappear, but was a necessary lever that Switzerland needed to fight it,” Caroline Dayer, expert, and researcher on preventing discrimination and violence said.
In comparison to other Western European countries, Switzerland is actually behind in anti-discrimination laws. Same-sex marriages are not legal in the country but civil partnerships are recognized, and currently, there is a marriage equality bill pending. The amendment to their anti-discrimination bill in Switzerland isn’t the solution, yet the first step towards it.