A GAY man yesterday lost his bid for a court appeal to win his husband the same pension rights a wife would receive if he were in a heterosexual marriage.
Three appeal judges unanimously ruled that 62-year-old John Walker’s claim failed because it applied to a time before civil partnerships were legally recognised.
They rejected Mr Walker’s complaint that the couple are victims of discrimination and human rights breaches.
Lord Justice Underhill claimed that “changes in social attitudes, and the legislation that embodies those changes, cannot fully undo the effects of the past.”
Mr Walker retired from chemicals group Innospec Ltd in 2003 after making the same pension contributions as his heterosexual colleagues over 23 years of employment.
He has lived with his partner, a 49-year-old former computer executive, since 1993 and wants to ensure that his husband will be financially supported should he die first.
Mr Walker said the company’s refusal to give gay people equal spousal benefits “utterly reprehensible.”
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner who has campaigned for pension equality for more than 10 years and supported Mr Walker’s legal bid, told the Star: “This is a very regressive legal judgement, which shows that gay equality is still not yet won.”
The court should have ruled that the legislation was unlawful as it is “blatantly discriminatory” and contrary to the Human Rights Act and the ethos of the Equality Act, Mr Tatchell added.
Mr Walker’s lawyers told the court that, if he were to dissolve his same-sex partnership and marry a woman, she would be entitled as a widow to around £41,000 a year.
But the trustees of the Innospec pension scheme would only pay his husband around 1 per cent of that amount.