Voters in Switzerland will go to the polls on Sunday to decide on a proposal to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity punishable by law.
Discrimination because of race or religion is already illegal in the country, the BBC said in a report.
Now with Sunday’s vote, members of Switzerland’s LGBT community hope they too will get legal protection.
“Many Swiss people tend to overrate how modern our country is,” said Anna Rosenwasser of the Swiss Lesbian Organisation.
She said that on the Rainbow Map of 49 countries’ respect for LGBT rights, Switzerland ranks just 23rd.
“It might be rich, but it’s really not modern yet. We have no laws concerning public discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
But opponents of the new law argue it could restrict free speech.
“We don’t even know if jokes about gays will be allowed,” the BBC report quoted Benjamin Fischer of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party as saying.
“We live in a country with freedom of expression, people should be allowed to think and say what they like, even if it’s a bit stupid or tasteless.”
Some religious groups have also opposed Sunday’s vote.
Although Switzerland’s reformed church has backed the new law, the Swiss Evangelical Alliance, which has significant support in rural areas, is sceptical.
Despite the vote, same-sex partnerships were already legal in Switzerland, and a bill to legalise same-sex marriage was on its way through parliament.