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Swiss government announces same-sex couples can marry from July 1

The Alpine country is one of the few remaining nations in Western Europe where gay and lesbian couples do not already have the right to wed.

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Same-sex partners will be put on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples (Peter Schneider/Keystone via AP)

Same-sex partners will be put on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples (Peter Schneider/Keystone via AP)

Same-sex partners will be put on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples (Peter Schneider/Keystone via AP)

Switzerland’s executive body has announced that same-sex couples can get married from July 1 next year, making good on the resounding support Swiss voters expressed in a recent referendum.

The Federal Council officially said Switzerland would, from January 1, recognise the marriages of same-sex couples who wed in other countries instead of continuing to treat the unions as simple civil partnerships.

In setting a date for the Marriage For All law approved by voters in September to take effect, the council said that civil partnerships would no longer be possible in Switzerland as of July 1. Couples already in civil partnerships, which the country authorised in 2007, would be allowed to maintain them without having to get married.

Switzerland is one of the few remaining countries in Western Europe where gay and lesbian couples do not already have the right to wed.

The referendum approved by an overwhelming majority on September 26 will put same-sex partners in the rich Alpine nation on equal legal footing with heterosexual couples, including by allowing them to adopt children together and to sponsor a spouse for citizenship.

Supporters of the referendum had acknowledged it would be months before same-sex marriages could begin, mostly for administrative and legislative procedures.

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