In October 2007, the Landtag, Liechtenstein’s parliament, voted to support same-sex registered partnerships, with 19 votes in favour and six against.
Vaduz-raised Mark, 27, said that same-sex partner recognition should be part of any progressive country.
“The Liechtenstein Parliament approved civil unions because it belongs to any modern state, to have the same rights for everybody. In Liechtenstein we like to have equality for all and give everyone the same rights,” Mark said.
While being the richest country in the world per capita, Liechtenstein’s geographic size and small population often mean the country looks towards precedents set in neighbouring Switzerland, Austria and, to a lesser extent, Germany.
Switzerland passed registered partnerships in 2004, through both an Act of Parliament and a popular referendum. This double sign of approval sent a clear message to Liechtenstein’s lawmakers.
Daniel F Seger is the president of Flay, an activist organisation founded in 1998 to represent LGBT throughout Liechtenstein, Vorarlberg and the Swiss Rhine Valley.
“Without the Swiss law we would not have the pressure and we would have to wait even longer for an initiative,” Daniel said.
“Years ago Flay asked for an Act regarding registered partnerships. The Government decided it was too early and we had to wait until our neighbour countries had such an Act.”
Another defining moment toward greater acceptance of homosexuality in the alpine nation was when Klaus said on the 2001 Berlin mayoral campaign trail, “Ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so” (“I am gay, and that’s a good thing”).
“I think that phrase resonated throughout all German-speaking countries. He [Wowereit] explained that it was nothing abnormal to be gay,” Mark said.
Daniel has also noted a change in attitudes over the past decade.
“More and more gays live openly and do not hide their sexual orientation. Because of this, most Members of Parliament know at least one or more gays personally and I think this helped also quite a lot,” Daniel said.
Despite parliamentary approval two years ago, gay couples are still unable to register their partnerships in Liechtenstein.
Daniel said there are several reasons for the delay.
“The most repetitive answer we receive is that the Act itself is not the problem but all other Acts which have to be changed too. Some laws have an Austrian base, others a Swiss base and some have a mixed base and some are fully own-created. But from my side it’s taking too much time for the first draft,” Daniel said.
“We are happy that we are at least here and that the target is in view.”
Flay’s aims have changed since its inception.
“In the beginning the aim was to have a contact person for gay-related topics and a possibility where gay people can meet. Because of the internet and the new possibilities this contact became less important as youngsters prefer to go to the big cities or to youth groups. St Gallen and Zurich are not so far away,” Daniel told Sydney Star Observer.
“Our main target at the moment is the act for a registered partnership in Liechtenstein and of course the collegiality between the members, so there are still some undertakings we do together.”