From cutting red tape for those who want to change their name and gender to fairer offers for online shoppers: It’s the time of year when the Swiss government makes its (statutory) New Year’s resolutions.
This content was published on January 1, 2022 – 9:00 AM
From January 1, 2022, people who identify themselves as trans or express a variant of gender development can “quickly and unbureaucratically” change their gender and first name at the registry office.
The government announced in October that the declaration to the registry office could be made by anyone who was “firmly convinced” that they did not belong to the gender registered in the registry office. This costs CHF 75 ($ 82). If the person concerned has not yet reached the age of 16 or is under general guardianship or the adult protection authority has ordered this, their legal representative must agree.
However, the government pointed out that there were only two options left in the registry office: female and male. The possible introduction of a third gender category or the complete waiver of gender registration is discussed.
In September, almost two-thirds of Swiss voters supported full marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.
Although these couples will have to wait until July 1 to get married or convert their civil partnership into marriage, they can show the paperwork to get the bureaucratic ball rolling. As of July 1, new civil partnerships are no longer possible in Switzerland, but existing civil partnerships can be continued.
However, a provision of the new law on joint property regime will come into force on January 1st. It affects same-sex couples who got married abroad (whose marriage is currently recognized as a registered civil partnership in Switzerland).
Good news for consumers. From January 1st, foreign online shops and services will not be allowed to discriminate against customers in Switzerland.
In 2017 activists collected enough signatures for a nationwide vote on the Fair Price Initiative. Parliament tabled a counter-proposal, which the activists accepted and which is now coming into force.
The core of the counter-proposal is a geoblocking ban, which retailers use to prevent online shoppers from buying cheaper products or services from websites abroad. By redirecting them to Swiss websites or because foreign suppliers refuse to deliver to Switzerland, companies and private individuals are forced to purchase products either from dealers or manufacturers in Switzerland, where prices are often significantly higher, or from exclusive importers.
“Whether traveling, holiday apartments, hotels, rental cars or tickets for events, concerts, amusement parks, etc., customers from Switzerland can now book directly abroad at the same conditions as locals,” says Konsumentenschutz.ch. “Until now, they often had to pay more for the same service.”
Freedom of movement
Also good news for Croatians. From January 1st, they have the same right to live and work in Switzerland as any other EU citizen (although the government can temporarily limit their number).
Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, but Switzerland, which signed the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, had so far opted not to fully open its borders to its citizens.
Anyone affected by domestic violence, threats, or stalking can now request that the attacker wear an electronic wristband or ankle device.
Thus, the whereabouts of the perpetrator can always be determined, who also has to bear the costs. This electronic surveillance, which can be ordered for a maximum of six months, is part of a broader law to protect survivors of violence. The individual cantons are responsible for implementing the measure if they deem it appropriate.
In 2020, the police in Switzerland recorded more than 46,000 violent crimes, of which more than 20,000 were domestic crimes. Around 27,000 children and young people are affected by domestic violence every year.
Tax breaks for naughty companies
Fines imposed on Swiss banks or companies abroad are conditionally deductible from January 1st.
The federal law on the tax treatment of financial sanctions aims to prevent companies from being used as scapegoats for political retaliation between governments. Fines imposed in Switzerland are not deductible, but abroad they are – if the sanctions violate Swiss public order or the company can be shown to have acted in accordance with the law.
Switzerland is one of the few countries in which such fines are tax deductible. Critics are unfazed and argue that bad behavior is rewarded.