A Swiss PACS?

Does Switzerland need a new form of regulated partnership in addition to marriage and registered partnership?

22 June 2017

A discussion event with Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga

Im Bild v.l.n.r.: Prof. Stephan Wolf, Bundesrätin Simonetta Sommaruga, Prof. Christian Leumann, Rektor der Universität Bern und Prof. Stephanie Hrubesch-Millauer

Forms of partnership have changed considerably over the last decades. Although many couples do still get married, the number of couples who prefer a different arrangement is increasing. This leads to the question whether Switzerland needs a new form of partnership regulated by law. On Thursday, 22 June 2017, political and academic experts, including Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga, came together to discuss this very question.

In the picture (from left to right): Prof. Stephan Wolf, Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga, Prof. Christian Leumann, rector of the University of Bern and Prof. Stephanie Hrubesch-Millauer.

After the confernce «Zukunft Familie!» (English: A future for families!), held in 2014, and the report by the Federal Council, published in March 2015, discussions regarding the modernization of Swiss Family Law continue. The conference held on 22 June 2017, which was attended by Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga, was brought about by two postulates that were accepted by the National Council in spring 2016. The question is whether Switzerland needs a new form of partnership regulated by law in addition to marriage and registered partnership, and if so, what it should look like.

What legal forms are available to unmarried couples in other countries? In France, the Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS), introduced in 1999, now makes up 41% of all partnerships (same- and opposite-sex) regulated by law. Likewise, in Luxemburg, the number of registered PACS is increasing. What makes PACS so successful?  Should Switzerland follow the example of France and Luxemburg? 

These questions were raised by Swiss and international experts in family law. Two introductory presentations from an international perspective served as the starting point: Following the depiction of situations in other countries, the French PACS was presented in more detail. Afterwards, two presentations led to a legal policy debate, in which politicians discussed the possibility of a Swiss PACS.

Media Reports 

Article by the Federal Department of Justice and Police (in German, French and Italian)