Switzerland voted to approve same-sex marriage in a referendum on Sunday, making it one of the last countries in Western Europe to legalize marriage rights for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Nearly two-thirds of Swiss voters backed the measure, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt children, and for married lesbians and queer women to access donors for conception.
Speaking to journalists following the results of the vote, Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that the measure would end “current inequalities of treatment,” adding that the government “would not impose on citizens how they should lead their lives,” Swissinfo reports.
“It is a historic day for Switzerland, a historic day when it comes to equality for same-sex couples, and it is also an important day for the whole LGBT community,” Jan Muller, a member of the “yes” campaign committee, said in a statement to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The campaign to legalize same-sex marriage did receive opposition from conservative groups, specifically around the notion of sperm donation. Opponents feared the measure could pave the way for future legislation that could legalize surrogacy, which is currently illegal in the small European country.
Benjamin Roduit of the Christian Democratic People’s Party, which opposed the initiative, said that despite the defeat, his party did raise awareness of “the central problem, one of children and medically assisted procreation,” the AP reports. “I think we have succeeded in raising awareness among the Swiss people and we will still be here when other steps will be proposed.”
The Swiss Parliament had previously voted to legalize same-sex marriage in December of last year, but opponents were able to gather enough signatures to force the issue to go to a referendum vote. Earlier this month, thousands gathered in Zurich to show their support for same-sex marriage ahead of the referendum.
The new measure will go into effect in July of 2022.