A GAY man won a landmark pensions battle at Britain’s highest court yesterday granting his husband the same pension rights as a heterosexual partner in the event of his death.
John Walker, 66, said he was “thrilled” after Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously in his favour, which now offers the prospect of financial security for thousands of same-sex couples.
Mr Walker retired from chemicals group Innospec Ltd in 2003 after working for the company for more than 20 years.
He had made the same contributions to the pension scheme as his heterosexual colleagues.
The Equality Act 2010 allows employers to exclude same-sex partners from spousal benefits paid into a pension fund before December 2005, which was when civil partnerships became legal.
However a panel of five justices, headed by Supreme Court deputy president Lady Hale, ruled the exemption was “incompatible with EU law and must be disapplied.”
The decision means Mr Walker’s husband, a former computer executive in his fifties who prefers not to be named, will be entitled to a spouse’s pension if Mr Walker dies.
After the ruling Mr Walker and human rights organisation Liberty, which represented him, urged the government to promise there would be no “rollback” on LGBT rights after Brexit.
Liberty said the landmark ruling could change the lives of thousands of couples and that companies using the Equality Act to discriminate against same-sex partners from pension benefits would be breaking the law.