07/05/2007

Poster calling gay couples "infertile" sparks backlash

Lu dans la Tribune de Genève :
The Swiss People's Party says it will remove or change its advertising campaign opposing benefits for homosexual partners in the face of outrage from other parties.
After a storm of protest the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (UDC) is withdrawing posters that call for a rejection of benefits to “infertile and wealthy” gays. The posters, placed around Geneva, shocked members of other parties who decried the slogans as “lies.”
“We have made a mistake in communications,” said UDC deputy Yves Nidegger. “The term ‘infertile’ was badly chosen. We regret having offended anyone.” The party has indicated it will either replace the posters or simply remove the word “infertile” from them.
The posters relate to a referendum scheduled for May 20 on a proposal by the canton to adapt its tax laws to reflect federal laws, approved by the people in 2005, that allow same-sex couples to become officially recognized partners. Under the proposed new regulations, if one of the gay partners dies the survivor would not have to pay inheritance tax. This law would conform with regulations that have applied to married couples for three years.
The UDC has campaigned against this “bonus.” But other parties of all stripes have decried this position. A Green party representative called the campaign “homophobic,” while socialist deputy Christian Brunier called on the posters to be outlawed.
Eric Bertinat, secretary-general of the UDC, fanned the controversy when he declared on the Leman Bleu TV channel that gays, being unable to reproduce, “contributed nothing” to society. Another spokesman for the UDC denied that the party was homophobic but it believed that people without children should not receive the same advantages as married couples who make financial sacrifices to raise their children.
But the party later beat a retreat in the face of general indignation shown by other politicians. Homosexual groups are planning to meet today to prepare their response to the situation. Questions have been raised about whether the poster violates the criminal code that outlaws the inciting of discrimination against people for reasons of ethnic origins, race or religion. A lawyer told the Tribune de Genève that the law makes no reference to sexual preferences.

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