Home » Eurovision winner Nemo urges Switzerland to bring in third gender

Eurovision winner Nemo urges Switzerland to bring in third gender

Eurovision winner Nemo urges Switzerland to bring in third gender

Nemo Mettler’s operatic, drum’n’bass-propelled entry won Eurovision for Switzerland last weekend, turning the singer into the first person who identifies as non-binary to triumph at the song contest.

Now the performer has their sights set on another milestone: convincing the Swiss authorities to allow non-binary designations on official documents.

“In Switzerland there’s no entry for third gender. And I think that’s absolutely unacceptable,” the artist, known as Nemo, told reporters after being crowned the winner of the 68th Eurovision song contest. “We need to change that.”

Asked who they would call first after their win, the 24-year-old responded swiftly and perhaps surprisingly: Beat Jans, Switzerland’s justice minister.

“We need to have the representation in our politics as well,” said Nemo, adding that they were hoping to schedule a call with the minister to speak about the rights of people who identify as non-binary. “It’s really important that people feel seen.”

On Wednesday a spokesperson for Jans said the politician had responded to the remarks in a text message to Nemo and had expressed a willingness to meet.

“On Sunday Jans tried to reach Nemo by phone and also texted the singer to congratulate and confirm his intention after a meeting. Both sides are currently looking for a suitable date,” the spokesperson added.

The push for change comes some 18 months after the Swiss government rejected proposals to introduce a third gender or no-gender option for official records, arguing that the binary model of gender continues to be “strongly anchored” in Swiss society.

Responding to two proposals from parliament, the governing Federal Council added that “the social preconditions for the introduction of a third gender or for a general waiver of the gender entry in the civil registry currently are not there”.

This week the debate was revived in Switzerland, returned to the headlines after the wide embrace of Nemo’s song The Code, which delves into the artist’s personal journey of breaking “the code” between genders.

“A non-binary person who officially doesn’t exist in Switzerland has won Eurovision 2024 for us all with #BreakTheCode,” a Green party lawmaker, Sibel Arslan, who in 2017 proposed allowing non-binary designations in Switzerland, wrote on social media.

Arslan described the 2017 proposal as “more relevant than ever,” and urged the Federal Council to “act now”.

The message was echoed by the youth wing of the Green Liberal party. “It’s time that Switzerland broke with its binary gender designation,” it said on X.

Several countries around the world seek to recognise people who identify as non-binary in official documents, including Germany, which in 2018 began allowing people to register as “diverse” and Australia which allows carriers to opt between male, female and indeterminate on documents such as passports.

Following a tumultuous song contest that was at times overshadowed by controversy, Nemo highlighted another issue after a reporter said that several fans had had their non-binary pride flags confiscated when they tried to bring them into the contest venue in Sweden.

“That is unbelievable,” said Nemo, who waived the Swiss flag and the striped non-binary pride flag onstage. “I had to smuggle my flag in because Eurovision said no. I did it anyways.”

The artist described it as a clear example of a “double standard,” adding: “Maybe Eurovision needs a little bit of fixing too, every now and then.”

The criticism followed that of the European Commission, who earlier this week described a decision to ban audience members from waving the EU flag at the grand final as “completely regrettable” and “mind-blowing”.

Eurovision organisers pointed to the longstanding policy of allowing only the flags of participating countries as well as rainbow flags. “Due to heightened geopolitical tensions, the flag policy was more rigorously enforced by security at this year’s event,” it said in a statement.