Switzerland marked a major step forward for LGBT rights on Friday Dec. 18, when lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage and to simplify the procedures for transgender people to change their legal gender.
Currently, same-sex couples are only allowed to enter into “registered partnerships”, which do not provide them with the same rights as those obtained through marriage, such as the rights to obtain citizenship and joint adoption of children.
Under the legislation, trans people will be able to change their gender on legal documents by making a declaration at civil registry offices, without the involvement of a doctor or a court.
The law will also let lesbian couples conceive using sperm donation.
Opponents of the law now have 100 days to collect a minimum of 50,000 signatures in order to trigger a referendum on the bill, which would occur next year.
A February survey by Pink Cross, a gay advocacy group, showed that more than 80% of the Swiss population support same-sex marriage.
If approved, it will be the 29th country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.
Switzerland has been one of the slower countries in western Europe to increase LGBT rights, as Swiss political institutions are more conservatively inclined than the public, according to Reuters; a law protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual people from discrimination was only passed earlier this year.