Equal pension rights for same sex married couples
Judgement has been handed down today in the Supreme Court which rules that a married gay man has been discriminated against by a pension scheme, and that his husband is entitled on his death to a spouse’s pension.
[Walker (Appellant) v Innospec Limited and others (Respondents)
 UKSC 47]
The appellant in the case Mr Walker had been in a civil partnership since January 2006 which was then converted into a marriage. Mr Walker’s occupational pension scheme which was arranged through his employers Innospec Ltd refused to confirm that they would pay spouse’s pension to Mr Walker’s husband following his death because his service predated December 2005, the date from which civil partnerships were granted by legislation.
Innospec Ltd argued that the alleged discriminatory legislation was permitted under paragraph 18 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010. Mr Walker’s initial claim was granted by the Employment Tribunal but was then overturned on Innospec’s appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Mr Walker’s consequent appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed and so he appealed further to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court today unanimously allowed Mr Walker’s appeal and made a declaration that: “i) paragraph 18 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 is incompatible with EU law and must be disapplied and ii) Mr Walker’s husband is entitled on his death to a spouse’s pension, provided they remain married.”
Lord Kerr giving the leading judgement in the Supreme Court said: “unless evidence establishes that there would be unacceptable economic or social consequences of giving effect to Mr Wlaker’s entitlement to a survivor’s pension for his husband, at the time that this pension would fall due, there is no reason that he should be subjected to unequal treatment as to the payment of that pension”.
Hence, the Supreme Court has ruled categorically that paragraph 18 of Schedule 9 of the Equality Act 2010 is incompatible with EU law and must be disapplied.
A further step in the right direction for recognition of equal rights for all and what we notice is that discrimination against same-sex couples is slowly but surely being eradicated, not least in the application of legislation.