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On 9 February, Switzerland held a referendum on a proposed law to make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation – an extension of current anti-racism law in the country. 63.1% of voters came out in favour of it.
The European Humanist Federation and the Swiss Freethinkers welcome the clear result of the vote. Advocating a tolerant co-existence is a matter for society as a whole. Anti-human agitation and discrimination against LGBTI people – often motivated by religious fundamentalism – may and should also be combated by the penal code as a last resort.
The result of the referendum is a sign that the religious fundamentalists who campaigned for a no vote largely failed to convince people outside their core support base. The Swiss society is becoming more and more secular and the population is increasingly moving away from religion (see article in German). The Swiss Freethinkers campaigned for the extension of the racism penal code with spots in buses and trains where the opponents are overrepresented: in the relatively religiously moulded areas of Switzerland (campaign description in German).
The Freethinkers highly value freedom of expression and hope that article 261 will continue to be applied with caution and restraint. The very real hate that LGBTI people are confronted with must, in extreme cases, however be met with criminal charges. At the same time, the Freethinkers continue to call a decluttering of the article: in particular, the blasphemy ban must be abolished. People and groups of people deserve protection. Religious ideas and religious feelings, gods or goddesses, however, do not.
The implementation of the November 2018 resolution remains a clear and necessary signal, especially to those countries that use blasphemy laws to persecute religious minorities and secular activists. (The proposal by National Councillor Beat Flach to abolish the blasphemy code has not yet been discussed by the Council.)
The referendum result shows that the protection of LGBTI people is a concern for society as a whole, and receives majority support. The EHF and the Swiss Freethinkers will continue advocating for the country to achieve marriage equality.