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European ruling on pensions and civil partnerships

A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union has 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. This is the case if the partnership is reserved to persons of the same gender and if it is in a legal and factual situation comparable to that of marriage.


The case, which involved a German national, was referred to the Court of Justice by a German Labour Court. The claimant, Mr. Römer, had entered into a civil partnership and applied for a recalculation of the amount of his supplementary retirement pension on the basis of the more favourable tax category applicable to married pensioners. His employer refused to apply the more favourable tax category on the grounds that only married, not permanently separated, pensioners and pensioners entitled to claim child benefit or an equivalent benefit are entitled to that advantage.


Mr Römer took his case to the Labour Court of Hamburg, claiming that because he was in a civil partnership he was entitled to be treated as a married, not permanently separated, pensioner for the calculation of his pension, and as such should receive the more favourable tax category. The case was then referred on to the Court of Justice. 

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