Supreme Court considers pension equality for gay couples

shared pension

Current pension right exclusions for gay couples amount to sexual discrimination, the Supreme Court has been told.

John Walker, a former cavalry officer, wants full pension rights for his husband. As the situation currently stands, if Mr Walker were to pass away his would receive just one per cent of his occupational pension, while a wife would have received the full amount.

The Court of Appeal had previously rejected his claim that the disparity was sexual discrimination because he and his partner began their relationship 12 years before civil partnerships became legal in the UK. As a result, the Judges concluded, discrimination could not be demonstrated.

Human rights organisation Liberty helped Mr Walker, now 62, take his case all the way to the Supreme Court, where the case has now been heard by five Justices.

Martin Chamberlain QC told them:

“This is direct discrimination. They have chosen to treat Mr Walker’s partner less favourably than that of a heterosexual married man.”

Mr Walker’s legal team have challenged the fact that the Equality Act as it currently stands allows Mr Walker’s former employer to exclude same sex partners from any pension funds paid before December 2005. This amounts to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation the lawyers claim, thereby breaching Mr Walker’s human rights.

Speaking to the media, Mr Walker insisted:

“The government should be ashamed that, in 2017, I and so many others are being forced to live with the worry that our loved ones won’t be provided for when we’re gone, solely because of our sexuality.”

He added:

“My husband and I have been together for 24 years.”

Photo courtesy of

Stowe Family Law Web Team

View more from this author

Leave a comment