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Switzerland votes to make homophobia and transphobia illegal

It would be punishable by up to three years in prison

In a monumental new ruling, Switzerland has voted to criminalise discrimination against LGBTQ people. This means that if someone is found guilty of either homophobia or transphobia, they could face a jail sentence of three years in prison.

Swiss councillors on the National Council voted 118 against 60 in favour of the change to their penal code, making it illegal to discriminate based on a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

The new ruling follows similar decisions made by other countries, such as India and Trindidad and Tobago, who have opened up more rights for the LGBTQ community. For Switzerland's LGBTQ population, this new ruling is a revolutionary triumph, and a bid to tackle what has become a concerning amount of anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the country. The motion still needs to be passed by the Council of States before it can officially become law.

National councillor Mathias Reynard led the campaign to change this, fighting to reform the penal code for around a decade. After the victory, Reynard said: “homophobia is not an opinion. It’s a crime... the victory sends a strong signal. I have already received hundreds of reactions.” 

Reynard is now working towards legalising same-sex marriage for Swiss people – currently, couples can only enter civil partnerships, and they have none of the same legal rights over taxes, adoption, and welfare as their hetero counterparts. Switzerland fell three places in the rankings on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s (ILGA) annual Rainbow Index in 2017.