ZURICH, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Same-sex couples can wed in Switzerland from July 1 next year, the government said on Wednesday, enacting the results of a ground-breaking referendum on the issue in September.
Voters approved the "Marriage for All" initiative by a nearly two-thirds majority, making Switzerland one of the last countries in Western Europe to legalise gay marriage.
In a two-stage process, same-sex couples who have married abroad will have their status recognised from the start of January. Previously, the couples were seen as a registered partnership in Switzerland.
The new law will enter force six months later, which means couples will be allowed to marry or convert their registered partnership from July 1, 2022.
Preparations for the marriage can be submitted before this date, the government added. No more registered partnerships will be allowed after this date.
Campaigners expect several hundred people to take advantage of the law change in the first year it comes into effect.
"We are really happy with the outcome of the vote, and that it is now being put into law," Maria von Kaenel, co-president of the Marriage for All campaign, said on Wednesday.
"We have been fighting for marriage equality for 30 years and the referendum result was a historic moment."
(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Bernadette Baum)