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UK Supeme Court awards equal pension rights to same-sex spouse

[JURIST] The British Supreme Court [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] on Wednesday that a gay retiree's husband is entitled to the same pension benefits a wife would enjoy regardless of when payment into the program began. John Walker filed the suit against his employer, Innospec Ltd [company profile], when they refused to pay his pension in the event of his death to his husband because his service predated December 5, 2005, the date the UK started legally recognizing civil partnerships. While the court acknowledged that the "general rule, applicable in most modern legal systems, is that legislative changes apply prospectively" in order to provide legal certainty, it looked to the Court of Justice of the European Union's (CJEU) [official website] "future effects" principle. The principle makes a distinction between retroactive application of a rule to a situation that was permanently fixed before the rule was enforced and immediate application of a rule to situations that are continuing. The court concluded that because Walker's service is continuing it is subject to immediate application and "that rights established by legislation should be activated at the time that they were stated to exist." Walker's spouse will now be entitled to about 45,000 pounds ($57,800) a year instead of the minimum of 1,000 pounds a year.

LGBTQ+ rights and anti-homosexuality laws have been a matter of international controversy for decades, and have been receiving increasing attention and scrutiny in the past few years. Earlier this month the New Zealand Parliament formally apologized [JURIST report] to the hundreds of men who were criminally convicted under antiquated anti-homosexuality laws. Also in July a Chinese court has ordered a mental hospital to issue a public apology and pay compensation [JURIST report] to a 38-year-old man after forcing him to undergo conversion therapy. In June the lower house of the German Parliament voted 393-226 [JURIST report] to legalize same-sex marriage. In April Nigeria prosecutors in Kaduna charged 53 men [JURIST report] for celebrating an LGBTQ wedding in violation of the state's law against 'unlawful assembly' and the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. A day earlier Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups had urged [JURIST report] UN Secretary General António Guterres to investigate alleged abuse against LGBT people in Chechnya. According to the open letter, about 100 gay and bisexual men were detained, tortured, murdered or went missing under the authority of Chechen officials.

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