Azara Blog: Swiss voters say yes to the 21st century

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Date published: 2005/06/05

The BBC says:

Swiss voters have backed joining a European passport-free zone and giving more rights to same-sex couples in separate referendums on Sunday.

Official results from all 26 cantons showed 58% backed the same-sex move and 54.6% supported joining the Schengen group of European nations.

The Swiss government had urged a yes in both votes.

Backing Schengen will also allow the Swiss police to share information with EU states on crime.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, but is surrounded by countries which are.

Joining the Schengen zone means that it will scrap border checks with its neighbours by 2007.

The same-sex vote gives gay couples the same inheritance and tax rights as married heterosexual couples. However, they will not be allowed to adopt or to undergo fertility treatment.

It was the first time a country had held a nationwide referendum on this issue.

Legislators had approved the move, but a coalition of religious and conservative groups had gathered 50,000 signatures to force the referendum.

Critics of Schengen had also forced the referendum vote with 50,000 signatures.

What with the voters in many other countries moving backwards, it is good to see an occasional step forwards. The "yes" vote on Schengen, although narrowly carried, is particularly good news since the opponents ran a typically dreadful xenophobic campaign. Three cheers for Switzerland.

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