WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2011
Gay couples in civil partnerships should enjoy the same pension rights as heterosexual married couples.
Gay couples in civil partnerships should enjoy the same pension rights as heterosexual married couples, the Court of Justice of the European Union said Tuesday in a landmark ruling.
Judges in Luxembourg considered the case of Jurgen Romer, a German national who had asked his former employee, the City of Hamburg, to apply a tax break available for married couples to his pension after he entered a civil partnership with his long-term partner.
The court found that a refusal to raise Romer's pension on the ground that he is not married, but only a partner in a civil union, 'may constitute discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation,' which is banned under EU law.
This was because under Germany's civil union law, 'the same obligations are incumbent on both registered life partners and married spouses. It follows that the two situations are thus comparable,' the court concluded in a statement.
In the EU, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden recognize gay marriage.
Eleven countries, including Germany, France and Britain, recognize same-sex civil unions, while the remaining 11 EU members, including Italy, Poland and Malta, do not recognize gay partnerships.
Tuesday's ruling from Luxembourg was an opinion. It now falls on German courts to implement it. But the EU court said its contents are 'similarly binding on other national courts or tribunals before which a similar issue is raised.'
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