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Pension Inequality Ended for Same Sex Couples

In a landmark 2017 case, the Supreme Court has decided that an exemption in the Equality Act 2010, which let employers exclude same sex partners from spousal benefits which had been paid into pension funds before December 2005, is discriminatory and breaches EU equality law. 


In light of the decision, employers are not permitted to provide different survivor benefits to the spouse in a same-sex relationship than they would to a spouse in a heterosexual relationship. 


This decision has immediate effect and the relevant legislation has been immediately disapplied. All companies now have to provide the same benefits to homosexual spouses as they would to heterosexual spouses. 


There is, however, a big question mark over what will happen when the UK leaves the EU as this ruling has been made as a direct consequence of the rights protected by EU law. The DWP, acting for the Government, supported the employers’ position that equal rights should not be provided for in pensions prior to 2005.  It therefore remains to be seen as to whether the government will protect LGBT rights after Brexit and implement this decision into UK law.


For more information on this, or any family or divorce matter please contact Joanna Gardner at or call 01905 723 561.

Added: 26 Jul 2017 16:06

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