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Pension discrimination between same-sex civil partnership and married couples illegal, says European Court of Justice

[Brussels, 11 May 2011] The Court of Justice of the European Union stated that a supplementary retirement pension paid to a partner in a civil partnership, which is lower than that granted in a marriage, may constitute discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

In its judgment in the case C-147/08, the Court of Justice of the European Union made a step further in the protection of social rights and non discrimination.

The Court ruled yesterday 10 May 2011 that paying a supplementary retirement pension to a partner in a civil partnership lower than that granted in a marriage may constitute discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Nonetheless such increased scope for the protection against discrimination in social rights is valid only in limited cases: the judgment has effect only in those national legal framework where the marriage is reserved to persons of different genders and it exists a legal partnership reserved to persons of the same gender, and when the couple is in a factual situation comparable to that of marriage.
But the Courts’s ruling may give legal weight to similar claims in other EU countries, giving legal strenght to individuals’claim against a local authority for the right to equal treatment under EU law, even if national law contained no provision relevant to their case. Even with such limitations, the Court sends a signal to upgrade non discrimination standards in social protection systems in Europe.

For more information here the Press Release of the European Court of Justice: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2011-05/cp110044en.pdf

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