Switzerland: LGBT graves cause unrest


Central Europe


Photo AFP, Nicolas Maeterlinck

LGBT people should have a "safe space" when they are dead. That is the opinion of various LGBT organisations in the Swiss city of Zürich. The initiative is met with criticism.

Mourners should feel safe when they visit their deceased loved one, argue the organisations. They, therefore, want deceased LGBT people to be able to rest among like-minded people. Currently, a project at the Sihlfeld cemetery is creating 30 'rainbow' graves. If there is high demand, the number of graves can be extended to 130.

The initiative is not only a trend, but it meets a need, says Dominik Steinecher from one of the organisations, HAZ - Queer Zürich. According to him, LGBT people have experienced a lot of rejection in their lives and have perhaps even been cast out by their families. For many, the community has become a substitute family where they also want to be buried. Steinacher states it is also about making the queer community visible beyond death.

But the plan is met with a lot of criticism. Swiss media like the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Weltwoche argue in comments that the identity-political isolation of the LGBTQ community is backwards-looking. It might also conflict with the Christian thought that we are all equal in death. However, not all Christians agree with that. "The grave is not a yardstick for the equality of people", says Benjamin Hermann from the Mosaic department, which belongs to the Reformed Church of Zurich and deals with the concerns of the LGBTQ community. "Because of this choice, they are worth no more or less."


Zürich is not the first city to develop an idea like this. In 2014, a cemetery for lesbian women was inaugurated in Berlin. There, too, the reasoning was the same: to be united with like-minded people even in death. However, the project in Zürich goes even further. For example, documentation of biographies of the deceased is planned.



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