Nearly two-thirds of voters in Switzerland backed the introduction of same-sex marriage in a referendum held Sunday, with campaigners calling it a historic moment for gay rights in Switzerland.
Marriage for all
The government's plans to introduce "marriage for all" were challenged by opponents, who successfully triggered a referendum. But nearly 64.1 per cent of voters in the wealthy Alpine nation supported the move, on a 52 per cent turnout.
Switzerland is the world's 30th country to adopt same-sex marriages, and was one of the last remaining western European nations yet to do so. The Netherlands was the first in 2001.
From next year
Justice minister Karin Keller-Sutter said the first same-sex marriages should be able to take place from July 1 next year.
Switzerland decriminalised homosexuality in 1942. Same-sex couples can register a civil partnership, with around 700 established each year. However, this status does not provide the same rights as marriage, including for obtaining citizenship and the joint adoption of children.
After years of debate, the Swiss parliament approved a bill last December allowing same-sex couples to marry, in the country of 8.6 million people. But it was challenged under Switzerland's direct democracy system, with opponents gathering the 50,000 signatures needed to put the issue to a referendum.