Switzerland will hold a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage, the government confirmed on Tuesday.
Switzerland is one of the few remaining countries in Europe where same-sex marriage is not legal.
The Swiss parliament passed a bill recognising same-sex marriage last December, several years after most other western European states.
Switzerland’s largest party, the populist SVP, had warned that they would launch a referendum bid against December’s law.
In Switzerland, most laws and other acts passed by parliament come into force without the people being asked to vote.
But a referendum is possible when citizens who oppose certain decisions collect 50,000 valid signatures within 100 days of the official publication of the act.
According to the Swiss Federal Chancellery, the request for a referendum on same-sex marriage gathered more than 61,000 valid signatures.
The federal chancellery will in May set a date for the plebiscite, which would not be held before September. Swiss citizens are sent envelopes stuffed with ballot papers and voter information about four times a year, asking them to cast their vote on a range of questions.
The push for the same-sex referendum came from a cross-party initiative, campaigning with the slogan “Yes to marriage and family, no to marriage for everyone”, which decries same-sex marriages as “fake” and argues only a man and a woman can enter a “natural” bond for life.
Same-sex couples can register a civil partnership in Switzerland.
However, this status does not provide the same rights as marriage, including for obtaining citizenship and the joint adoption of children.
Most western European countries have over the last two decades introduced laws allowing couples of the same sex to marry, with the Netherlands leading the way in 2001. France legalised same-sex unions in 2013, followed by England and Wales in 2014, and Germany in 2017.