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Swiss gays hope for marriage equality ahead of parliamentary vote

By Emma Farge

 

Reuters (03.06.2020) – https://reut.rs/30qZ3b3 – When civil partnerships were legalised in Switzerland in January 2007, gay couple Laurent Marmier and Yves Bugnon completed the paperwork that same month, making them among the first to take advantage of the new law.

 

Thirteen years later, they hope a parliamentary vote will open the door for them to finally marry and enjoy full equality with heterosexual couples. Debate began on Wednesday but the vote was delayed to an unspecified date, a parliament official said.

 

“We don’t have the same rights, not quite. And this is what is bothering us,” said Bugnon, a music teacher in the French-speaking city of Lausanne.

 

Conservative Switzerland lags many countries in Western Europe on gay rights and is slowly catching up. In February, voters backed an anti-homophobia law giving lesbians, gays and bisexuals legal protection from discrimination.

 

A survey commissioned by gay rights association Pink Cross showed more than 80% of Swiss support same-sex marriage.

 

However, the country’s political institutions tend to be more conservative than the general public, Socialist lawmaker Mathias Reynard told Reuters. “Swiss people are in favour – but everything takes time.”

 

The same-sex marriage proposal is expected to pass the lower house but it will still have to clear the upper house. Then, in line with Switzerland’s direct democracy process, it could be challenged via referendum if opponents gather the necessary 50,000 voter signatures within 100 days.

 

The dominant People’s Party (SVP) opposes the law but an official did not respond for requests to comment on whether it would seek a referendum on the issue.

 

The fact that gay marriage is not yet legal here has more than just symbolic importance for couples. Marital status has a bearing on adoption and assisted reproduction rights, including sperm donations for lesbian couples.

 

Marmier said he was hopeful the law would pass but added it was important that these other issues were also addressed in the new law.

 

“I think it is important it moves forward and that we don’t wait 13 years to pass the next step,” he said.





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YouTube takes down anti-gay ad after outrage in Russia

Russian clip on constitutional referendum that attacked LGBT+ adoptions removed from YouTube after outcry.

 

By Umberto Bacchi

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (03.06.2020) – https://bit.ly/3cCQlJ6 – An online video suggesting Russians back constitutional reform or see gay couples win adoption rights was taken down by YouTube on Wednesday after LGBT+ groups said it incited hatred.

 

The clip, posted online this week, shows a boy going from joy to heartbreak as he discovers his new parents are men.

 

The ad had created an online furore that experts said could help garner support for the reform vote, which could let President Vladimir Putin extend his long rule.

 

It plays on deep-seated anti-gay sentiment in the country, where activists say violence against gay people has been on the rise since the adoption of a 2013 law that banned the dissemination of “gay propaganda” among young Russians.

 

Only heterosexual couples can adopt children in Russia.

 

“Here’s your new mum. Don’t be upset,” one of the new adopting parents tells the child as he introduces his partner, who promptly offers the boy a dress. A woman working at the orphanage watches on, then spits on the floor in disgust.

 

“Will you choose such a Russia? Decide the future of the country – vote for amendments to the constitution,” a voiceover says, suggesting a vote for Putin protects traditional values.

 

Russia is to hold a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that include resetting Putin’s presidential term tally to zero, which could extend his rule until 2036.

 

Anther proposed amendment spells out that marriage means a union between a man and a woman – and nothing else.

 

During two decades in power, Putin has closely aligned himself with the Orthodox Church and sought to distance Russia from liberal Western values, including attitudes toward homosexuality and gender fluidity.

 

The video drew a torrent of criticism.

 

Opposition politician Alexei Navalny wrote on Twitter that Putin officials had gone “completely crazy” over homosexuality.

 

Russian LGBT+ group Stimul said it had filed a complaint with law enforcement agencies, asking for the clip to be removed and an investigation opened.

 

“This video incites hatred and hostility towards a group of people on the basis of belonging to the LGBT community, it degrades the dignity of a person (and) is frankly discriminatory in nature,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

 

Patriot Media Group, the firm that produced the clip, said the video was not “campaigning against homosexuals” but aimed to explain the content of the July vote.

 

“The main point is … the defence of the family institution as a union of a man and a woman,” the group’s head, Nikolai Stolyarchuk, said in a statement, adding the company produced the footage with its own money.

 

On Wednesday, the video was taken down from YouTube, where it had racked up tens of thousands of views, and replaced with a message saying it violated the company’s policy on hate speech.

 

The clip is still available on Russian social media VKontakte, where it has more than a million views.

 

Russia’s investigative committee and the general prosecutor’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

 

On its website, Patriot lists Evgeny Prigozhin, a businessman dubbed “Putin’s cook” for his close ties to the president, as the head of its board of trustees.

 

Ben Noble, a Russian politics professor at University College London, said the video seemed designed to stir controversy – possibly to draw attention to the vote.

 

“It strikes me as being deeply homophobic,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “It’s really important for the Kremlin that the turnout is as high as possible.”

 

Critics have dismissed the vote as a constitutional coup which they fear will be rigged and urged voters to stay away or to reject the proposed changes.

 

The Kremlin has said authorities will take all necessary measures to ensure voters’ safety.


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