In Swiss tradition of direct democracy, the public will be asked to decide if a new equal tax initiative should pass. Public opinion is required as this will result in a change of the Swiss Federal Constitution. The Christian Democratic People’s Party’s “For the couple and the family – No to the penalty of marriage” initiative began its journey in 2011 and although many would be in favor of allowing non-married couples to receive the same tax breaks and social security benefits as married couples, a closer look at the referendum’s wording on what equals a marriage reveals a second effect that the initiative would have that is causing a stir:
Marriage is the stable long-term and statutory cohabitation of a man and a woman. It constitutes a tax point of an economic community. It must not be disadvantaged in comparison to other lifestyles, especially not regarding taxes and social security.
Though same-sex couples in civil partnerships would be covered by the initiative’s benefits clause, the proposal would also insert a new definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman which would effectively ban same-sex marriage in the Federal Constitution. This possible constitutional same-sex marriage ban has led gay rights supporters to label the CDPP’s referendum a trojan horse.
While the CDPP’s proposal initially passed all the required stages of Swiss Parliament after gathering enough signatures some years ago, opinions later changed between many MPs who believed that the heterosexual marriage definition went too far and now different sections of government have released official positions urging the electorate to vote for its defeat. The youth wing of the Christian Democrat People’s Party in the country’s most populous canton of Zürich has broken ranks with the main branch and also called for a No vote on “For the couple and the family”.
The two sides of the debate have been campaigning to convince the public to vote either Yes or No on February 28th. Below are posters from the YES and NO camps:
On the left is the CDPP’s call for a ‘Yes’ vote and on the right is “Moving forward together” which has become a slogan for LGBT rights groups who support a ‘No’ vote.
For more information on the LGBT rights situation in Switzerland, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Switzerland