Switzerland voters have backed a new law against homophobia in a referendum.
The country European country does not yet have laws that specifically protect lesbians, gays and bisexuals from discrimination.
With results in from 23 out of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, the preliminary figures showed that the highest approval rate was in Geneva with 76.3 percent and that the rural cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Schwyz and Uri had voted against.
The change was passed by the parliament in 2018 but critics, who believe it will end up censoring free speech, had obtained the 50,000 signatures necessary under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy to put to the matter to a vote.
All of Switzerland’s major parties, except the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party – SVP, the biggest political force in parliament, support the law.
Under the new law, homophobic comments made in a family setting or among friends would not be criminalized.
But publicly denigrating or discriminating against someone for being gay or inciting hatred against that person in text, speech, images or gestures, would be banned.
The government has said it will still be possible to have opinionated debates on issues such as same-sex marriage, and the new law does not ban jokes.