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Sep 07, 2007 News: EU Court Supportive on Survivor Pensions for Gay Couples
By UKGayNews

(EU) - Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer Damaso, an Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg delivered today his opinion in a landmark case before the court which is favourable to same-sex partners (case of Tadao Maruko v. Versorgungswerk der deutschen Bühnen). The ECJ ruled that refusal to pay Mr Maruko survivor’s pension constituted indirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Mr. Maruko lived with his partner in a registered partnership. After his partner died the VddB, the pension scheme for German theatres, refused to pay him a survivor’s pension as such pensions were, they claimed, provided only for married partners.

Mr. Maruko sued the VddB, and the Bavarian Administrative Court inMunich who referred the case to the ECJ for interpretation of the 2000/78/EC Directive which established a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

The ECJ was asked to decide if registered (same-sex) partnerships have to be treated on the same footing as marriage and if employers and pension schemes may restrict benefits to married (opposite sex) partners.

The Advocate General Damaso in his opinion delivered today, made a number of important points.

Directive 2000/78/EC established a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation has – and has direct effect in EU member states even when a state has not fully transposed it at national level, he ruled.

Salary, he said, should be interpreted broadly and should also include pension payments by employers towards employee’s private pension funds

“We welcome the opinion of the Advocate General Damaso,” said Patricia Prendiville, executive director of ILGA-Europe.

“Although this is not yet a final decision of the ECJ, for which we still have to wait, we hope this opinion will pave the way for more equal and fair treatment of same-sex partners in the European Union.

“One of the main objectives of ILGA-Europe is to ensure that same-sex partners have the same rights and treatment in all European states as opposite sex partners do,” she continued.

“Only in a minority of European countries do same-sex partners and their children enjoy full equality with opposite sex partners and their children.

“This situation is far from being fair or equal. We hope that today’s opinion of the Advocate General Damaso will pave the way towards full recognition and protections of the rights of same-sex partners in the EU,” she concluded.

Dr Helmut Graupner presented an oral submission on behalf of ILGA-Europe in this case before the ECJ.

The European Court of Justice is part of the European Union. It is not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights, which is affiliated with the Council of Europe.

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