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Swiss parliament votes to allow same-sex marriage – but public may have final say in a referendum

Swiss parliament votes to allow same-sex marriage – but public may have final say in a referendum
Legislators in Switzerland have approved a bill to allow same sex-couples to marry. But it's too early to call victory for the LGBTQ community – opponents of the legislation have promised to put it to a referendum.

The vote, which took place in both chambers of the parliament on Friday, was far from unanimous. The bill was backed by 136 MPs in the National Council, with 48 against it and nine abstaining. In the Council of States, 24 deputies were in favor of gay marriage, 11 of their colleagues rejected the idea and seven abstained. 

The bill, allowing gay couples to get married, while also granting lesbian couples access to sperm donations, faces yet another hurdle before becoming a law.

The conservative Federal Democratic Union party, which stands for Christian values, has announced that it's going to put the issue to a referendum vote. This means that the Swiss public might have to decide if same-sex marriages are to become a thing in their country.

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"If the opponents launch a referendum, we're ready," Matthias Erhardt from the Rainbow Families association, which protects the rights of gay parents in the country, told AFP. "We have 82 percent of the population behind us," he insisted.

Switzerland remains one of the few European nations were same-sex marriage is still illegal. Members of Parliament have been debating legislation on the issue since 2013.

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At the moment, the Alpine nation allows gay and lesbian couples to enter into so-called "registered partnerships," which doesn't provide the right to obtain Swiss citizenship or to jointly adopt children.

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