Sven Epiney

On a Saturday evening in March, the final of the dance show “Darf ich bitten” is showing on Swiss German-speaking television. Excitement levels remain within reasonable limits. Then the live programme takes a surprising turn. The well-known TV and radio presenter, Sven Epiney, who is a contestant in the show, goes down on one knee and proposes to his dance/life partner. Michael says yes, they hug and then cry tears of joy. Someone brings them a bunch of red roses. “What an exciting moment,” cheer the media, “Epiney writes television and gender equality history!” Something like this was not really to be expected. The ever-pleasant 47-year-old from Valais, who presents quiz and lifestyle programmes, had never really stood out before. Declarations of love during a live broadcast can be viewed as touching or disconcerting, but one thing is clear: the private sphere moved into the political realm in this instance. Soon the Swiss Parliament will debate whether same-sex couples may marry. Nowadays they are able to register their partnership. It is a type of civil marriage, but not with the same rights and obligations as the traditional form. The legal change may find a majority, but that does not suit everyone. After Epiney’s appearance, the comment columns were flooded with shocking homophobic comments. Complaints were made to Swiss television. It was alleged that the TV star had used a fee-based programme for his own purposes. And also that it is “unnatural” when two men kiss each other. The television ombudsman firmly rejected all complaints. Meanwhile, the boulevard press has reported that the newly engaged couple are enjoying some quality time together. It remains to be seen when Epiney’s publicly initiated wedding will take place, or rather may take place.

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