Landmark Ruling - Equal pension rights for same-sex partners

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17 July, 2017

Rubina Vohra

Mr. Walker entered a civil partnership in January 2006 which was later converted into a marriage.  Mr. Walker's employer refused to pay a full spousal pension on the basis that his service began before the Civil Partnership Act came into force.

This meant that under the current law Mr. Walker's husband would only have received a spousal pension of a few hundred pounds a year.  If Mr. Walker was married to a female, his spouse would receive about £45,000 a year.

The Supreme Court held: 'The salary paid to Mr. Walker throughout his working life was precisely the same as that which would have been paid to a heterosexual man. There was no reason for the company to anticipate that it would not become liable to pay a survivor's pension to his lawful spouse'.

The Supreme Court ruled that the current law was incompatible with EU anti-discrimination laws, overturning it with immediate effect.

The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court will have a dramatic effect on equal rights to finances for civil partners and spouses in same sex marriages, who will now share the same pension rights and entitlements to those in a heterosexual marriage.

It should be noted however, that this ruling was made under EU law and is a consequence of the rights offered under EU law.  'The government must promise that there will be no rollback on LGBT rights after Brexit'.

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