Court upholds decision to deny same-sex survivor's pension

14 July 2016

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld the ruling against a retired worker in his bid to see his husband receive the same pay out from his pension scheme in the event of his death as a spouse of the opposite sex would be entitled to.

Aldeguer Tomás v Spain (ECHR)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has backed the Spanish government against a man who was denied a survivor's pension on the death of his same-sex partner. The death occurred in 2002, three years before same-sex marriage was introduced in Spain. The ECHR reached a similar conclusion from the UK Court of Appeal in Innospec v Walker case – that the change in the consensus about sexual orientation did not require the retrospective rewriting of rules to put right past unequal treatment.

Aldeguer Tomás argued that his circumstances were analagous to the surviving partner of a heterosexual cohabiting couple prevented from marrying before Spain changed the law to permit divorce in 1981. The ECHR rejected this, ruling that Tomás' situation was different in nature and context. It said changes to help heterosexual couples had been introduced against a background of pension rights being built up unequally between the sexes, because women were underrepresented in the work force.

With thanks to Pinsent Masons for providing this summary.