The History of LGBTQ* in Zurich

A lively lesbian and gay scene has established itself in the city of Zurich. But what we today largely take for granted was in fact preceded by a fight for equality that lasted for decades.

Progressive Switzerland and Zurich Pioneers

In Zurich the first human rights movements had already been fighting for the rights of LGBTQ* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other spectrums of sexuality) people since the beginning of the 20th century. For the most important of these organizations was based in Zurich:

“Der Kreis”

“Der Kreis” (The Circle), as the first ever organization for gays and lesbians, influenced and inspired the entire Western world between 1943 and 1967. From 1948 to 1960, its club venue, Eintracht, was located on the site of the present-day Theater am Neumarkt. After the organization was disbanded, some of the members founded Club 68, which later evolved into the Swiss Organization of Homophiles (SOH). In 2014, a movie was made about the emotionally-charged history of the Swiss gay organizations under the title of “Der Kreis” (The Circle). Incidentally, the two protagonists, Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, still live in Zurich and were the first pair to officially register their partnership in the City of Zurich. Registered partnerships between same-sex couples have been recognized in Zurich since 2007.

Zurich Pride Festival

In 1978, together with two other interest groups, the SOH organized the first Christopher Street Day in Switzerland at Zurich’s Platzspitz. This event has been celebrated in Zurich every year since 1994; in 2009, it was renamed the Zurich Pride Festival.