Eurovision winner urges Switzerland to officially recognize third gender in documents

With a signature song and a drum'n'bass beat, Nemo Mettler won Eurovision 2024 for Switzerland late last week, becoming the first non-binary person to triumph in the song contest. Now he is determined to convince the Swiss authorities to allow non-binary people to be so identified on official documents.

Nemo won Eurovision 2024 with a song symbolizing non-binary people, photo Facebook

“In Switzerland there is no mention of the third gender. And I think this is absolutely unacceptable.” the artist told reporters, after being crowned the winner of the 68th edition of the Eurovision contest. “We need to change this,” he also said.

Asked who he would call first after his win, the 24-year-old gave a quick and perhaps surprising answer: Beat Jans, Switzerland's Minister of Justice. The singer known as Nemo justified his choice by saying that he wanted to schedule a conversation with him to discuss the rights of people who identify as non-binary, reports The Guardian.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Beat Jans said the minister responded to the remarks in a text message to Nemo and expressed his willingness to meet.

“On Sunday, Beat Jans tried to contact Nemo by phone and also sent a text message to the singer to congratulate him and confirm his intention after a meeting. Both parties are currently looking for a suitable date,” the spokesman said.

About 18 months ago, the Swiss government rejected proposals to introduce a third gender option or no gender option in official registers, arguing that the gender binary continues to be “strongly anchored” in Swiss society.

“The social preconditions for the introduction of a third gender or for a general renunciation of gender registration in the civil status register do not currently exist”, the Swiss officials informed then.

After Eurovision, the debate returned to the front pages of Swiss newspapers this week, especially after the message of Nemo's song “The Code”, which suggests the artist's personal journey to break the “code” between the sexes.

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

The message was picked up by the youth wing of the Liberal Green Party. “It's time for Switzerland to break away from the gender binary,” they said on X.

Non-binary people are officially recognized in Germany and Australia

Nemo highlighted another problem after a reporter said that several fans had their non-binary flags confiscated when they tried to bring them into the theater in Sweden. He described this as a clear example of a “double standard”, adding: “Maybe Eurovision needs a bit of a fix every now and then.”

“It's incredible”, said Nemo, who waved the Swiss flag and the striped non-binary flag on stage. “I had to put my flag in because Eurovision said no. I did it anyway.”

Several countries recognize people who identify as non-binary on official documents, including Germany, which in 2018 began allowing people to register as “diverse”, and Australia, which allows people to choose between male, female and indeterminate on passports.