Voters in Switzerland have thrown their support behind allowing same-sex couples to marry, bringing the Alpine nation in line with many other countries in Western Europe.
Official referendum results showed the measure passed with 64.1% of voters in favour and won a majority in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, or states.
Switzerland’s parliament and the governing Federal Council had supported the Marriage For All measure.
The country has authorised same-sex civil partnerships since 2007.
Referendum posters near Geneva (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
Supporters said the measure would put same-sex partners on equal legal footing with heterosexual couples by allowing them to adopt children together and facilitating citizenship for same-sex spouses.
It would also permit lesbian couples to utilise regulated sperm donation.
Opponents said that replacing civil partnerships with full marriage rights would undermine families based on a union between one man and one woman.
At a polling station in Geneva on Sunday, voter Anna Leimgruber said she had cast her ballot for the “no” camp because she believed “children would need to have a dad and a mum”.
But Nicolas Dzierlatka, who voted “yes”, said that what children needed was love.
“I think what’s important for children is that they are loved and respected — and I think there are children who are not respected or loved in so-called ‘hetero’ couples,” he said.
The Zurich Pride parade earlier this month (Michael Buholzer/Keystone via AP)
The campaign has been beset by allegations of unfair tactics, with the opposing sides condemning the ripping down of posters, LGBT hotlines being flooded with complaints, hostile emails, shouted insults against campaigners and efforts to silence opposing views.
Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million, is traditionally conservative and only extended the right to vote to all its women in 1990.
Most countries in Western Europe already recognise same-sex marriage, while most of those in Central and Eastern Europe do not allow two men or two women to marry.
Supporters said it could still be months before same-sex couples could get married, mainly because of administrative and legislative procedures.
Also on Sunday, voters dismissed a proposal spearheaded by left-wing groups to raise taxes on returns from investments and capital such as dividends or income from rental properties in Switzerland as a way to ensure better redistribution and fairer taxation.
Results showed 64.9% of people voted against the proposal in a country known for its vibrant financial sector and relatively low taxes, and as a haven for many of the world’s richest people. No canton voted in favour of the measure.