Elections have changed Bienne council's political composition. Now, three members out of five are openly gay or lesbian.
Bienne, the 10th largest city in Switzerland, has become the first place in the world to be ruled by an openly gay and lesbian majority.
Sunday’s (23 September) elections for the city cabinet started a new era in Switzerland. Now, in Bienne, called Biel for German-language speakers, three members out of five in the cabinet are LGBT campaigners.
Barbara Schwickert (Greens), Cédric Némitz (Socialist Party) and Beat Feurer (Uniondémocratique du Centre) are set to put LGBT issues in the cabinet’s agenda.
Bienne’s new mayor, Erich Fehr, said: ‘Their homosexuality has not been an issue in these elections. They have not been voted for being gay or lesbian.’
Alicia Parel, director of Switzerland’s leading LGBT association Pink Cross, said: ‘I hope what is happening in Bienne is going to be an encouragement to many gays or lesbians who fear to come out.
‘Now, young LGBT people have to forget shame or fear, everyone is accepted in Switzerland.’
According to media and politics expert George Lutz, Bienne’s context has helped the election of LGBT politicians.
Bienne is located on the language boundary and is bilingual and ‘bicultural’, French and German.
Lutz said: ‘In German Switzerland, being gay is not an issue and people don’t care when they vote. In French Switzerland it is still an issue. In Bienne, which lies in the middle, it has been a positive issue.’
Commentators have said Bienne or Biel is the first city to be ruled by an openly gay majority - get in touch if you know different.
UPDATE: Since publishing this we have been told of two other cities who beat Bienne to it. Apologies to West Hollywood in California and Wilton Manors, Florida who both got there first. And if you know of any others, please update us further.