Trans flags were noticeably absent as Switzerland’s Lesbian and Gay community gathered watching as their rights were being voted on in a referendum forced by a right-wing political party.
In 2018, lawmakers voted to add sexual orientation to an existing law that penalized discrimination based on race, ethnicity and religion. Under the amended law, homophobic comments made in public would be punishable with up to three years in prison reports the New York Times.
It includes comments made on television, messages posted on social media, and discrimination against gay or bisexual people in public venues like restaurants or movie theaters.
Lawmakers initially included wording in the bill to protect transgender people, but the Council of States, Switzerland’s higher parliamentary chamber, rejected it on the basis that the criteria were too vague.
Thrown under the Bus.
Our community expressed happiness that their Swiss Gay and Bisexual counterparts are protected by this amendment, but they feared retribution as they were pointedly excluded from the new anti-discrimination law.
Caroline Dayer, an expert and researcher on preventing violence and discrimination based in Geneva, said the law would fill a legal loophole and provide much-needed protection to homosexual and bisexual people.
“In Switzerland, it’s possible to publicly say, for instance, ‘Burn the gay’ or ‘Lesbians must be raped’ without any concern,” Ms. Dayer said in an email before the vote. She added that the law would put an end to that.
By extension, it is still legal to publicly say ‘burn trans people’ or ‘transgender people must be raped’ in Switzerland.
TGNS – Transgender Network Switzerland posted on Facebook “We are very pleased that “sexual orientation” is now subject to protection from discrimination. For the trans and intersex people in our community, however, the words in this interview with the reigning minister of justice are a punch in the stomach.”
The expanded anti-racism punitive norm could come into force quickly. Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told the media that she would only start to take effect on July 1. The Federal Council still has to decide on the effective date.
The Minister of Justice was satisfied with the yes vote by the voters. The population has decided to improve the legal protection of homosexuals against hate and discrimination, she said. This specifies what is already in the federal constitution: that nobody should be discriminated against, especially not because of the way of life.
Keller-Sutter sees no need for an additional extension of the criminal code. The group of homosexuals fits well in this article, she said when asked. She recalled that homosexuals had been persecuted by the Nazis.
Other groups – for example disabled people or women – are protected against discrimination by special laws. The mention of transsexuals in the anti-racism punitive norm had already been discussed in parliament. The parliament then decided in agreement with the Federal Council to delete the gender identity.
It was legitimate that the request for a supplement to protect transsexuals was made on Sunday. But for that to happen, a majority would first have to be found in parliament, Keller-Sutter said. She did not personally believe that this was possible.