Swiss vote on anti-homophobia law as critics decry censorship

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02/06/2020

When 41-year-old Jehanne, a lesbian, was repeatedly insulted for supporting LGBT rights during a tram ride in the Swiss city of Geneva last month, she threatened to call the police. But her aggressor said his remarks were not a crime under Swiss law. “I was shaking, I was crying too,” said Jehanne, an artist and mother of an eight-year-old boy, who asked for her last name to be withheld. “I looked around me and I was really surprised that no one looked at me or intervened at all.” In his response to Jehanne, her aggressor was strictly correct, exploiting a Swiss loophole in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Conservative Switzerland, unlike many of its western European neighbors, does not have yet have laws that specifically protect lesbians, gays and bisexuals from discrimination. The government hopes to change that. Parliament passed a law in 2018 to extend anti-racism statutes to cover sexual orientation, and offenders could be jailed for three years.

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