The Swiss have voted by a large majority to make “homophobia” a criminal offense. On Sunday, 63.1 percent of the voters who turned out for several popular initiative referendums agreed that “discrimination,” “hate speech” and other forms of public “insults” aimed at homosexuals because of their “sexual orientation” will be punishable by a fine and up to three years’ imprisonment. During the run-up to Sunday’s vote, the Catholic hierarchy in Switzerland was mostly conspicuous by its absence from the debate. With the new legislation, the aggravating circumstance of a victim's homosexuality will be added to the original 1994 anti-discrimination and hate speech law in Switzerland's penal code that already criminalized discrimination on the basis of race or religion... Among public acts and statements that from now on will be punishable by law, it is expected that calling homosexuality an “illness” or suggesting treatment for it will be considered as hate speech. It will also become illegal to refuse to serve clients because they are homosexuals, including in restaurants, swimming pools, guesthouses or hotels... The Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CES) was remarkably cautious about the suggested new scope of Switzerland’s “anti-racist” laws. In a February 3 article, 24heures.ch noted that the Catholic Church had chosen to remain silent. “The doctrine of the Catholic Church expresses itself with out exception against all calls to hate and discrimination against persons or groups,” was the comment placed on the Swiss Bishops’ Conference website. “It will be up to citizens to judge whether this principle is already sufficiently enshrined in the existing legislation or whether it should be extended,” it said... Eric Bertinat, UDC, municipal councillor of Geneva and president of Perspectives catholiques, commented on radiolac.ch: “Firstly, the new law is not justified because a penal law already exists. Secondly, a penal law is something serious. The simple fact of being accused makes that you really will be held accountable.
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