European Court Rules for Pension Rights for Same-sex Partners

April 3, 2008 ( - The EU Court of Justice has ruled that EU nations that recognize same-sex unions as legal marriages must grant surviving partners the same pension rights as those provided to surviving spouses in traditional marriages.

The Associated Press reported that the Luxembourg-based court ruling was made in the case of a German man who was denied his partner’s retirement plan payments after his partner died in 2005. The court said the pension plan had discriminated against the man based on sexual orientation since the men’s relationship was recognized under German law as a legally registered life partnership equivalent to a traditional marriage.

The 10 out of 27 EU nations that do not recognize same-sex partnerships at all are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Ireland, according to the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, the AP said. The ruling does not apply to those nations.

In the U.S., a New York appellate court recently decided that same-sex marriages validly performed abroad must be legally recognized, just as the state recognizes those of heterosexual couples married elsewhere (See NY Court Rules to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages from Out-of-state).