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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

Monkeys could get their rights enshrined in Basel constitution.
Basel-City voters will have to decide whether to grant fundamental (human) rights to monkeys. Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Same-sex couples can marry from July 1st

The “marriage for all” law will enter into force as of July 1st, 2022, the Federal Council announced.

From this date on, gay couples will be able to marry, though the preparatory procedure for marriage can be started before this date.

They will also be able to convert their registered partnership into marriage: a simple joint declaration to a civil status officer will suffice to convert a current partnership.

This law will be enacted after 64 percent of Swiss voters backed the move in a September 26th nationwide referendum.

READ MORE:UPDATE: Swiss voters say big ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage

St. Gallen to abolish its blacklist of bad insurance payers

The cantonal parliament decided to get rid of the blacklist from December 1st and the 9,000 residents whose names figure on the list will no longer be pursued for payments.

St. Gallen’s list, like that of other cantons, includes names of health insurance policyholders who have not paid their premiums, as required by the Swiss law.

The delinquent payers were only entitled to emergency care but not to other medical treatments.

“Designed as a deterrent for recalcitrant premium payers, this list has not had the desired effect”, the canton’s parliament said, explaining why the decision to abolish it was made.

“The basic care of economically and socially disadvantaged people has been sometimes endangered”, it added.

To date, only the cantons of Aargau, Lucerne, Thurgau, Ticino and Zug still maintain a blacklist.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?

New subscription formula for SwissPass

The chip card for Swiss public transportation users will change its design, increase its digital storage capacities, and allow contactless payment options starting next month, the SwissPass Alliance announced.

New customers and holders of a SwissPass expiring after five years will receive a new-generation card from mid-December.

Around 5 million SwissPasses are currently in circulation in Switzerland. Besides public transport, it is also used for ski passes, car or bicycle rentals, and to access to parking lots.

Sample SwissPass. Image by SwissPass Alliance

Switzerland’s level of English language proficiency is so-so

Switzerland is in the 25th place out 112 nations in a study ranking how well natives can communicate in English.

 The EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) found that the German-speaking cantons and Ticino performed better on average than French-speaking regions. The canton of Zurich achieved the best results.

On the French-speaking side, Vaud has the best skills in English, but Geneva recorded the best overall results.

“The Swiss education system which promotes grammar and lexical must place more emphasis on the active participation of pupils and the oral practice of the language in order to reach the top 15″ said EF’s director Fred Pralong.

Among its neighbours, Austria (2nd place) and Germany (11th)  outdid Switzerland in English fluency. France, however, is in the 31st position in the survey and Italy in the 35th.

No monkey business in Basel

After a heated and controversial debate in the cantonal parliament, local MPs turned down the proposal to grant monkeys basic rights in the Basel-City constitution.

One of the reasons for the rejection was the argument that monkeys should not be legally better off than other intelligent animal species, like pigs. It was also argued that primates kept in Basel’s famous zoo would not be directly impacted by having fundamental rights enshrined in the law.

Ultimately, the human primates will have to decide: the issue will be voted in the cantonal referendum in February 2022.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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