Swiss votes on whether to allow same-sex marriage

GENEVA (AP) voters in Switzerland cast their last vote in a referendum on whether same-sex couples can be allowed …

GENEVA (AP) voters in Switzerland cast their last vote in a referendum on whether same-sex couples can be allowed to marry.

Personal voting took place on Sunday morning in the rich alpine country to conclude the latest of Switzerland’s regular referendums that give the public a direct say in decision-making. Most polls are by mail, and polls close at noon local time (1000 GMT).

The Swiss Parliament and the Executive Federal Council support the “Marriage for All” measure, for which recent voter polls have shown solid support. Switzerland has approved same-sex civil partnerships since 2007.

Proponents say the passage would put same-sex partners on an equal footing with heterosexual couples, e.g. By allowing them to adopt children together and facilitate citizenship for same-sex spouses. It would also allow lesbian couples to take advantage of regulated sperm donation.

Opponents believe that replacing civil partnerships with full marital rights would undermine families based on a union between a man and a woman.

The campaign has been rife with allegations of unfair tactics, with opponents refusing to tear down posters, LGBT hotlines being flooded with complaints, hostile emails and shouting insults at campaigners and efforts to silence conflicting views.

Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million and international prestige due to Geneva’s role as the UN’s home in Europe, is traditionally conservative and first extended the voting rights of all its women in 1990.

Most countries in Western Europe already recognize same-sex marriage, while most in Central and Eastern Europe do not allow marriage between two men or two women.

Although the Swiss referendum passes, supporters say it would be months before same-sex couples could get married — mainly due to administrative and legislative procedures.

Another issue on Sunday’s vote is a measure led by left-wing groups to raise taxes on returns on investment and capital such as dividends or income from rental properties in Switzerland as a way to ensure better redistribution and fairer taxation.

Polls suggest a referendum is unlikely to take place 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.

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