The European Union’s top court ruled on Tuesday against a British law preventing a transgender woman from claiming a pension as a woman before her marriage was annulled. The law was discriminatory, it said.
The woman had applied for a pension after she reached age 60. But this was denied on the grounds that men must be 65 to claim a pension and she did not have a certificate recognizing her change of gender, even after undergoing surgery in 1995.
British law requires marriages entered before gender change to be annulled before such documents can be granted, something that neither the woman nor her spouse wanted for religious reasons.
In Tuesday’s ruling, the court said the requirement for a person’s marriage to be annulled in order for that person to be pensionable only applies to those who have changed gender, directly discriminating against such individuals.
The court added that the purpose of the annulment requirement was that two people of the same sex were not married which in itself was not linked to the retirement pension scheme.
Jacqueline Mulryne and Chris Stothers, the lawyers representing the woman, said they were delighted with the court’s verdict
“This is a small decision but it has great importance in the move towards increased equality and respect,” they said in a statement.
The case is now returned to the British Supreme Court which has to apply the ruling.