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Swiss voters back new law against homophobia

A campaign poster on display in Geneva.
A campaign poster on display in Geneva. Copyright AFP TV (screenshot)
Copyright AFP TV (screenshot)
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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Swiss voters have approved by a wide margin a measure that will make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.


Swiss voters approved a new law that will make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.

The country voted in favour of the anti-homophobia national referendum by a majority of 63.1%.

Of Switzerland's 26 regions, only three had majorities vote against the new law.

Voters "are saying unmistakably that hatred and discrimination have no place in our free Switzerland," Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said.

Socialist MP Mathias Reynard told Euronews that the result was an "important victory"

"It was an important sign, not just for LGBT rights, but for human rights".

Pink Cross Switzerland added that "the result has a signal effect" and strengthens the rights of all minorities in the country.

The Coca-Cola Company in Switzerland has publicly shared its support for the initiative to make the anti-gay hate speech illegal.

But critics of the law argued that protections against denigration were already enshrined in Swiss law. The nationalist Swiss People's Party, the biggest single party in parliament, had campaigned against opposed the change, arguing that the new legislation could further censor free speech.

They said the backers must now show it was "not a pretext for handing down politically motivated verdicts and silencing unwelcome opinions and voices."

But Justice Minister Keller-Sutter has stated that "freedom of expression remains guaranteed.''

She added that courts have been "restrained" in their application of the existing law and "anyone who remains respectful needs to have no fear of being convicted."

Silvan Amberg, Co-President of the LGBTI committee, Sonderrecht NEIN ("No to Special Rights!"), told Euronews that the vote is more "symbolic" for Swiss voters.

"There is not really an objective criteria to decide what is hate speech and what isn't in a broad sense," he said. "We don't want this kind of special law that protects us from hate speech."

"I think we need to focus on the government pushing the dialogue to reach social equality."

Although homosexual relationships are tolerated in much of Switzerland, the country falls behind many other European countries on affording equal rights to same-sex groups.

In late 2018 Switzerland's parliament approved expanding the country's existing anti-discrimination law to make it illegal to publicly denigrate, discriminate or stir up hatred based on a person's sexual orientation.

Under the new measure, operators of restaurants, cinemas and public facilities such as swimming pools will not be able to turn people away because of their sexual orientation.


The revision approved Sunday expands the scope of a law in force since 1995 that bans discrimination on the basis of race or religion.

Watch Matthew Holroyd's report in #TheCube in the player above.

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