Same-Sex Couples

Living in community in a binding relationship

At the center of the church-theological statements on same-sex partnerships lies the rejection of all forms of discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and same-sex lifestyles. Moreover, the church emphasizes the importance of the quality and stability of the life shared between two persons. Views on homosexuality – particularly on church marriages for same-sex couples – differ in the Protestant Church in Switzerland. The dialogue within the church challenges everyone involved. Thus, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ and with a firm eye on God’s Word, the discussion must be conducted carefully and prudently.

The Protestant Church in Switzerland has addressed the issue since the beginning of the debates in society over same-sex love and partnerships. The theological commission of what was then the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches summarized these discussions in a fundamental study (On the Way to New Horizons. Homosexuality. Reflections on and Impulses for the Discussion of Statements by the Protestant Churches of Switzerland, Bern 2001). Before the referendum on the so-called partnership law, the Council of the FSPC published its statement (Same-Sex Couples. Ethical Orientation on the ‘Federal Law on Registered Partnerships for Same-Sex Couples’, Bern 2005).

For the political and social debates over the introduction of ‘marriage for all’, the existing statements were revised and fleshed out by the Council (Assembly of Deputies of 16-18 June 2019, Agenda Item 11: Family – Marriage – Partnership – Sexuality from a Reformed Perspective, Motion of the Reformed Church of the Canton of St. Gallen of 19-21 June 2016: Report and Response of the Council; Assembly of Deputies of 4-5 November 2019, Agenda Item 10: ‘Marriage for all’). In addition, the Institute of Theology and Ethics prepared a document on the biblical-theological understanding of marriage and partnership on behalf of the Council (‘A Small Church in the Church. Thesis Paper on Marriage and Partnership’, Bern 2020). Simultaneously with the discussion on marriage for all, the criminal law provisions against racism were expanded. They prohibit discrimination against people and incitement to hatred, particularly against a person or a group of people because of their race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

In order to eliminate the unequal treatment of same-sex couples, who can register their partnership according to existing legal provisions, and opposite-sex couples, who can enter into civil marriage, the Federal Parliament adopted a relevant parliamentary initiative and passed the bill in December 2020. The opening up of marriage would put an end to unequal treatment in facilitated naturalization, adoption and reproductive medicine. People living in a registered partnership are already allowed to adopt their partner’s child. What is new is that same-sex couples would now be able to adopt a child together. Moreover, the bill would also allow married female couples access to legally regulated sperm donation in Switzerland. However, anonymous sperm donation, egg donation and surrogate motherhood remain prohibited for everyone.


David Zaugg, Senior Public Affairs and Migration Officer