EU top court upholds pension rights for same-sex partners

EU top court upholds pension rights for same-sex partners

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice [official website] Tuesday ruled [judgment] that a person in a same-sex partnership has the right to collect their partner's pension benefits after that partner's death. The ruling came in the case of a man who was in a registered same-sex partnership in Germany. According to the court's press release [PDF text]:

As regards the question whether the refusal to pay the survivor’s pension to the registered life partner constitutes discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, the Court finds in the light of the order for reference that Germany, while reserving marriage solely to persons of different sex, has none the less established the life partnership, the conditions of which have gradually been made equivalent to those applicable to marriage. The provisions of the Versorgungsanstalt Regulations restrict entitlement to survivor's pensions to surviving spouses. That being the case, and since life partners are denied the pension, the latter are thus treated less favourably than surviving spouses.

Consequently, the Court rules that the refusal to grant the survivor's pension to life partners constitutes direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, if surviving spouses and surviving life partners are in a comparable situation as regards that pension. It is for the Bayerisches Verwaltungsgericht München to determine whether that condition is satisfied.

Currently, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands are the only European countries to recognize same-sex marriage, although a number of others, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, and Croatia, recognize some form of civil union or registered partnership [ILGA backgrounder]. Deutsche Welle has more.