Rich Vaughn, IFLG: Switzerland Rejects Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination by Wide Margin

Swiss Voters Reject Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination

Earlier this month the people of Switzerland voted by a surprisingly wide margin to make it illegal to discriminate publicly based on a person’s sexual orientation. The 63 percent to 37 percent gap was larger than anticipated, providing a big boost for LGBTQ rights in Switzerland. Only three Swiss cantons, or states, voted against the discrimination ban.

The Swiss Federal Assembly passed the anti-discrimination ban in 2018, adding sexual orientation, but not gender identity, to a 1995 law prohibiting discrimination based on race or religion, as NBC News reported. But opponents of the measure gathered signatures to force it to a public referendum on February 9, when the Swiss electorate resoundingly backed it. BBC reports that activists had not expected anti-discrimination support to break 60 percent.

While the recent vote is a significant step forward for LGBTQ equality in Switzerland, it was not an unmitigated triumph, reports LGBT Nation. The original bill, passed by the Federal Council in August 2018, included protections against discrimination based on “gender identity.” But the Swiss Council of States voted to remove the gender identity language from the bill on the basis it was too vague, and the Federal Council approved it with the deletion, effectively removing protections for transgender people from the new law.

In addition to its heritage of inter-nation neutrality and banking secrecy, Switzerland has a long history of religious and social conservatism. Women did not get the federal vote in Switzerland until 1971, and some cantons did not give women the vote at the canton level until 20 years later. Current Swiss law prohibits same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples and in vitro fertilization for lesbian intended parents, LGBT Nation reports. Switzerland legalized same-sex civil unions in 2007, and a bill legalizing same-sex marriage is making its way through Parliament.

Anna Rosenwasser of the Swiss Lesbian Organisation told the BBC Switzerland still has a long way to go to secure equality for LGBTQ people and their families, noting that Switzerland ranks only 23rd on the organization’s Rainbow Map, which ranks the degree of respect for LGBT rights in 49 European countries. She cited the high suicide rate for LGBTQ people in Switzerland, five times that of heterosexual people. Up to now, the country has had no laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Although there are no anti-LGBT hate crime or harassment statistics available, The New York Times reports that “in 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council publicly expressed concerns about hate speech against gay people in Switzerland, and urged the country to ‘adopt comprehensive legislation against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.’"

As has been true in every country in the world to date, the movement for LGBTQ equality in Switzerland progresses in stops and starts. The Swiss LGBTQ rights organization Pink Cross says it plans to capitalize on the momentum generated by the recent public vote to advance the case for same-sex marriage and transgender rights. The February 9 vote confirmed that most Swiss are in favor of fairness and opposed to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Now it’s up to their elected leaders and institutions to respect the people’s will.

 

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.