Opponents force referendum on Swiss same-sex marriage

A rainbow flag is pictured on a balcony ahead of a referendum on anti-homophobia law, in Neuchatel, Switzerland, February 5, 2020. Picture taken February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

ZURICH, April 27 (Reuters) - Swiss voters will get final say on whether same-sex couples can marry after opponents gathered enough signatures to force a binding referendum on a 2020 law allowing them to wed.

That legislation also allowed transgender people to change their legal gender with a declaration, in a major change for a country that has lagged other parts of western Europe in gay rights.

The Swiss government certified that opponents had gathered enough support to call a referendum under the nation's system of direct democracy. It will in May set a date for the vote, which could come in September at the earliest, a spokesman said.

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Opponents had decried "fake marriages" and said only a man and a woman could wed.

A survey commissioned by a gay advocacy group Pink Cross in 2020 showed more than 80% of Swiss support same-sex marriage, suggesting the law would take effect even if subjected to a referendum.

France legalised same-sex marriages in 2013, Germany followed in 2017 and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that the Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry.

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Reporting by Michael Shields and John Miller Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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