By Tatiana Tissot
The Swiss Parliament granted homosexuals the right to adopt their partner’s children. This new law is expected to become effective in 2016. Its details will be discussed by the end of the year by the government.
However, some right-wing parties are currently preparing a referendum. This means that if they manage to collect 50,000 signatures of Swiss citizens who wish to vote on the subject, the law will be submitted to the people’s opinion. The country’s participatory democracy involves that citizens can raise their voice against a decision made by their rulers, provided they’re numerous enough.
Actually, the homosexual parents’ association “Familles Arc-en-Ciel” (Rainbow Families), is not worried about a possible referendum. “According to a survey realized by Isopublic in 2010, two Swiss out of three agree with the right for homosexuals to adopt their partner’s children,” co-president of the Rainbow Families association, Chatty Ecoffey told 429Magazine.
The actual law is a light version of the first text, adopted last year by the High Chamber of the Swiss parliament. At first, the idea was to give homosexuals full adoption rights. Both the government and conservative politicians disagreed with that idea, leading to the following consensus: limiting adoption rights to the partner’s children.
However, the kids may have been adopted by a single gay parent, or be born from In Vitro Fecundation (even if the method remain forbidden to gay people in Switzerland).
The law’s first aim is nonetheless to protect children born from a previous heterosexual union. If LGBT associations don’t have precise numbers, they assess that between 6,000 to 30,000 kids in Switzerland have same-sex parents. If you need a scale, remember that this small country counts around 8 million inhabitants.
The problem is that today, kids being raised by their biological parent and their same-sex partner lack fundamental rights, compared to children living in heterosexual families. Over all, the partner has no legal right nor duty towards the child he/she has raised.
“The law will acknowledge the reality of these kids, and protect them legally,” said Ecoffey. “In the present situation, if the biological parent dies, the kid has no guaranty to be able to live with his social parent.”
Other day-to-day problems arise when the social parent wishes to attend a meeting at school or sign up the kid for an activity in a club, for instance.
However, two right-wing Swiss parties are preparing an action against this law through a referendum. They are the Young UDC, the youth section of the important Swiss People’s Party, and the UDF, a small conservative political group.
“For us, it’s important that Swiss people get the opportunity to vote on this matter – without lacking respect to each other,” politician of the Geneva’s Young UDC group, Xavier Schwitzguébel, told 429Magazine. This 24-year-old is strongly opposed to the law.
One of his arguments against the law is that homosexual adoption would strongly complicate genealogy registers, but also that it could impede heterosexual rights. “The Russian will refuse to give kids to Swiss families if we grant adoption rights to homosexuals. They voted this lately,” said Schwitzguébel, fearing a shortage of children to adopt in the country.
“Of course, homosexual couples must be respected, but we cannot accept that heterosexuals – which are the majority – pay consequences for that,” he added.
After the violence and homophobia resulting from same-sex marriage in France, we asked both Ecoffey and Schwitzguébel if they feared a similar situation.
“In France, we witnessed statements and deeds that are unacceptable,” said right-wing Schwitzguébel. “Violence cannot be used to impose one’s ideas.”
Switzerland’s participative democracy cannot degenerate in such situations according to him, as the people always have the tools to express their ideas. “And if the people say “yes” to homosexual adoption, I will move on to another topic,” he stressed, alluding to French opponents, who were still demonstrating against same-sex wedding even after it was democratically accepted.
On the Rainbow family side, Ecoffey is not worried about opponents becoming aggressive in Switzerland. “We also hear lamentable speech and prejudices here, but the debate is more serene.”
If the right to adopt one’s partner’s children is granted to Swiss homosexuals in 2016, the next step for LGBT associations would be to claim for full adoption rights – but that won’t be possible until a couple of years as the Swiss law-making process remains slow.