Switzerland: Coca-Cola publicly backed initiative to outlaw homophobic discrimination ahead of referendum which saw law approved

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9 February 2020

Swiss Vote to Penalize Public Homophobia

Author: Elian Peltier, The New York Times

Swiss voters agreed on Sunday to penalize public homophobia, greenlighting an amendment to an antidiscrimination law that had not provided protection for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people.

The amendment, which was years in the making, was challenged by opponents arguing that it would stifle freedom of expression.

Voters were asked in a referendum whether they wanted to extend Switzerland’s racism statutes to sexual orientation, and on Sunday63.1 percent voted in favor of it. The extension was backed by the government and most of Switzerland’s political parties.

Unlike most countries in Western Europe, Switzerland did not have a law that specifically protects lesbians, gay men and bisexual people from discrimination. Publicly denigrating someone’s sexual orientation, or inciting hatred against someone in public, could not be prosecuted...

Lawmakers initially included wording in the bill to protect transgender people, but the Council of States, Switzerland’s higher parliamentary chamber, rejected it on the basis that the criteria were too vague...

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4 February 2020

Coca-Cola Wants Switzerland To Vote To Criminalize Homophobia

Author: Jamie Wareham, Forbes

Switzerland goes to the polls on February 9 in a national referendum that could criminalize homophobia–and Coca-Cola has made the bold move of supporting calls to make the anti-gay hate speech illegal.

If the country approves the move, it will criminalize homophobia to the same extent as other forms of discrimination based on race, gender and religion.

The Coca-Cola Company in Switzerland has publicly shared support for the initiative.  

Early indications are that the referendum has the majority support of Swiss voters, says The Local.

But the campaign hasn’t been without controversy.

The youth wing of the Swiss Peoples Party (SVP), the national-conservative, right-wing populist party, has called for a boycott of Coca-Cola in response to their support...

The campaign, features as its central image as five Coca-Cola bottles shaped out with words in five European languages that say:

"Coca-Cola is enjoyed by many in Switzerland. Regardless of age, gender, skin colour, relation or sexual orientation. The vast majority in a small country like Switzerland requires understanding and solidarity from everyone.

"We also want to do out bit by bringing people together. Thats why we take a stand for a colourful and non-discriminatory society. For a Switzerland where people stand #together."

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