Back to Blog

Pensions Equality for Same-Sex Couples

The Supreme Court have ruled unanimously that John Walker’s husband will receive the same pension rights as a wife would receive. It is reported that the ruling means that his husband would receive £45,000 a year after his death rather than around £1,000 a year.

Facts of the case

Mr Walker had worked for a chemicals group Innospec from 1980 to 2003. He entered into a civil partnership with his now husband in 2006, which was converted into marriage. His pension scheme refused to pay a full spousal pension to his husband in the event of his death, as the law provides an exemption for employers, allowing them to exclude pensions contributions made before December 2005, when civil partnership became legal.

Now the Supreme Court have ruled that this exemption is unlawful and is “incompatible with EU law and must be disapplied”

Delivering the judgment, Lord Kerr said: “The salary paid to Mr Walker throughout his working life was precisely the same as that which would have been paid to a heterosexual man. There was no reason for the company to anticipate that it would not become liable to pay a survivor’s pension to his lawful spouse.”

Following the case Mr Walker commented: “It is to our government’s great shame that it has taken so many years, huge amounts of taxpayers’ money and the UK’s highest court to drag them into the 21st Century”.

Stonewall, who campaign for LGBT equality, have referred to the ruling as “a victory for common sense” and “another step towards full equality for LGBT people”

It’s a landmark decision for many people and will have a huge impact on the financial provision that same sex couples can make for one another in the event of their death. 

Share this