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The Marriage Act 2013: A battle half won?

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, enacted in England and Wales in March 2014 with Scotland following suit the following December, has gone down as one of the greatest pieces of socially progressive legislation to have ever been passed in this country. For the first time in our history, couples of the same gender have been able to legally marry, allowing them to obtain the same legal status as married couples of opposite sexes.

15 September 2015

But equality of a legal kind does not necessarily equate to full equality, a dichotomy most strikingly seen in the perpetuation of restrictions on survivor's benefits from accrued pension pots of their same-sex partners.

Currently, pension schemes are not obliged to backdate a surviving spouse's pension rights beyond 5 December 2005 (when the Civil Partnership Act came into force). This effectively locks out gay men and women from passing on the benefits of their accrued pension pots to a spouse or civil partner, were they to die.

After an employment tribunal in 2012 ruled that his employer's pension scheme contravened European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights, John Walker, an ex-cavalry officer, found his case overruled by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. His employer, Innospec, with support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), succ...

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