Eu Court Says Britain Discriminated Against Transgender Woman In Pension Age Dispute
An EU justice chief has found that the UK discriminated against a transgender woman by denying her a pension.
The case surrounds a transgender woman identified for legal reasons as MB.
MB got married to her wife in 1974. The pair stayed together after MB came out as transgender and transitioned to female, undergoing gender surgery in the 1990s.
But the family hit a stumbling block when MB reached pension age back in 2008.
Under UK law at the time, women can retire earlier than men. The male and female state pension ages are already set to be equalised by 2020 – but under pre-existing rules, women were eligible to retire as much as five years sooner, at the age of 60.
As the Gender Recognition Act allowed for legal recognition of transgender people as their preferred gender, MB was entitled to be treated as legally female and claim her pension.
However, she was denied a full gender recognition certificate at the time of her retirement in 2008, because the UK did not permit same-sex marriage. This meant that MB’s marriage would have to be annulled in order for her to gain legal recognition.
When MB applied for a state retirement pension in 2008, her application was rejected on the basis that she did not have a full gender recognition certificate and therefore could not be treated as a woman for the purpose of determining her pensionable age.
She was told to wait until the male retirement age of 65.
MB took her case to the courts, contending that she suffered discrimination contrary to EU law.
And she today gained backing from Advocate General Michal Bobek at the European Court of Justice.
In a non-binding opinion, he ruled that the treatment of MB “amounts to direct discrimination on the basis of sex”.
A release explained: “In reaching this conclusion, the Advocate General undertakes an assessment as to whether the circumstances of the case give rise to direct discrimination on the grounds of sex. Direct discrimination is characterised by the unequal treatment of a comparable group of persons to the detriment of another group due to their ‘protected characteristic’ (in this case their sex).
“Such a difference in treatment on the grounds of sex cannot be justified.
“Direct discrimination on the basis of sex is allowed only in the specific cases listed under the Directive.
“The derogation allowing Member States to maintain different retirement ages for eligibility to a retirement pension between men and women does not allow for a difference in treatment between transgender persons and those persons whose gender is not a result of gender reassignment.”