Swiss Approve Gay Civil Unions by Malcolm Thornberry 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief Posted: June 5, 2005 4:00 pm ET (Geneva) Swiss voters Sunday overwhelmingly approved recognizing same-sex relationships. The Swiss Parliament last year passed legislation to create a civil unions registry and grant limited rights to same-sex couples - mainly in the areas of pensions, inheritance and taxes. But, opponents - headed by a small conservative religious party, the Federal Democratic Union - collected enough signatures to force a referendum on the issue. The FDU claimed that granting any rights to same-sex couples would undermine traditional marriage. The Roman Catholic Church urged voters to reject civil unions. But, the Federation of Protestant Churches supported the government's legislation. Swiss activists organized a nation-wide ‘Yes to Partnership’ campaign to support partnership rights. Support for the legislation received nearly 60 percent of the vote Sunday. It was the first time in European that voters had been asked to decide whether same-sex couples should receive government sanction. Elsewhere in Europe the decision of how to recognize gay and lesbian relationships has been decided by governments. Holland and Belgium have legalized same-sex marriage. Most other European Union nations have varying forms of domestic partnerships.