12 Jul 2017

Gay man wins landmark case on pension rights

Gay man wins landmark case on pension rights

A gay man has won a landmark ruling which will give his husband the same pension rights as a wife.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that if John Walker, 66, dies, his husband is entitled to a spouse's pension, provided they remain married.

He said it would "drag" the Government "into the 21st Century", while human rights group Liberty said "thousands" could benefit.

A UK Government spokesman said it would review the implications of the ruling.

BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said the decision will have "a dramatic effect on the entitlement of thousands of civil partners and spouses in same-sex marriages".

Equal rights

They will now enjoy the same pension rights and entitlements as those in a heterosexual marriage, he added.

The BBC said the ruling means Mr Walker's husband - who is in his 50s - would be entitled to a spousal pension of about £45,000 a year in the event of his death, rather than around £1,000 a year.

Mr Walker, a former Cavalry officer, said it was "to our Government's great shame that it has taken so many years, huge amounts of taxpayers' money and the UK's highest court to drag them into the 21st Century".

He added: "Finally this absurd injustice has been consigned to the history books and my husband and I can now get on with enjoying the rest of our lives together."

Action

Mr Walker took legal action as he wanted to ensure that, should he die first, his husband would receive an adequate pension.

The majority of occupational pension schemes give 50% of the value of a pension to a spouse for the rest of their lives after their husband or wife dies - without taking the marriage date into account.

However, the Equality Act 2010 has an exemption for employers, allowing them to exclude civil partners from spousal benefits paid in before December 2005.

The Supreme Court has now ruled the exemption under the 2010 act is "incompatible with EU law and must be disapplied".

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