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Victory for pensions equality

The UK Supreme Court this morning has ruled that the discrimination against same-sex couples on pensions rights must end immediately.

John Walker has been fighting a legal battle with the support of human rights campaigners Liberty to close an exemption in the law which meant that same-sex couples who are married or in a civil partnership do not get the same rights to their spouse’s pension if one partner dies.

This is a victory for common sense and equality.

The law had previously only required pension providers to pay out on contributions made since 2005, when same-sex couple were first able to form a civil partnership, rather than when individuals started contributing to their pension. In many cases, this was decades before then. 

This means people in same-sex marriages and partnerships were entitled to much less if one of the partners died than married opposite-sex couples.

In John Walker’s case, if he had died his husband would have only been entitled to around a £1000 a year from his pension, instead of £45,000 a year if he had been a woman in an opposite-sex marriage.

We salute John Walker and Liberty

This was clearly unfair and discriminatory. It is something which Stonewall has been lobbying the Government to change for many years, and was included as one of our priorities for legal equality in our manifesto for the recent General Election.

Now the Supreme Court has ruled that the UK is in breach of EU equality laws and that same-sex couples should immediately benefit from equal protection.

It is vital that the Government responds clearly and swiftly to implement this ruling in full, and confirm that they will ensure this change will not be affected by the UK leaving the EU, as the judgement was based on EU law. 

Same-sex couples who are married or in a civil partnership should have always been treated in exactly the same way as married opposite-sex couples on their pension rights.

This is another step towards full equality for LGBT people.

The exclusion made in the Equality Act that allowed this discrimination was wrong, and we are glad it will now be put right.

This is a victory for common sense and equality.

We salute John Walker and Liberty for the battle they fought on behalf of the thousands of same-sex couples who will benefit from this decision.

This is another step towards full equality for LGBT people. But there are many more battles to fight. We must keep up the momentum and ensure that in future no-one experiences discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.