[JURIST] Germany's constitutional court [official website, in German] on Thursday ruled [press release] that surviving partners in a registered civil partnership have a right to collect under the occupational pension scheme for civil service employees. The court found that affording such payments to surviving spouses in a marriage but excluding civil partners violated the equal treatment provision in Article 3.1 of Germany's Basic Law [materials, in German]. The complaint was brought by a civil servant in a registered partnership who was denied placement [Deutsche Welle report] in a tax class for married employees by a public insurer, resulting in a 74 euros a month difference in pension payments and excluding his partner the right to collect on the pension in the result of his death. The court reasoned that such unequal treatment required justification because of the effect it had on same-sex partnerships.
While Germany does not allow same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive], German law affords several rights [ILGA backgrounder] to registered same-sex partnerships including alimony and divorce, limited adoption provisions and pension rights that exclude federal civil servants. Belgium, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands all allow same-sex marriages while several other European countries allow partnerships with limited rights. Earlier this month, a Russian court refused to recognize [JURIST report] a marriage between two women. In August, Portugal's high court ruled [JURIST report] that the right to a same-sex marriage was not present in the country's constitution. In June, Ireland passed a bill that gave limited rights to same-sex partners. Last year, the European Court of Justice, spurred by a complaint from a German man, ruled that same-sex partners have a right to survivor pensions [JURIST report].