European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Opinion of Advocate General of European Court of Justice is favourable towards same-sex partners

Today Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer Damaso, an Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg delivered his opinion in a landmark case before the court which is favourable to same-sex partners (case of Tadao Maruko v. Versorgungswerk der deutschen Bühnen).

The facts of the case are as follows: Mr. Maruko lived with his partner in a registered partnership. After his partner died the VddB, the pension scheme for German theatres, refused to pay him a survivor’s pension as such pensions were provided only for married partners. Mr. Maruko sued the VddB, and the Bavarian Administrative CourtMunich referred the case to the ECJ for interpretation of the 2000/78/EC Directive which established a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation.

The ECJ has to decide if registered (same-sex) partnerships have to be treated on the same footing as marriage and if employers and pension schemes may restrict benefits to married (opposite sex) partners.

Dr Helmut Graupner presented an oral submission on behalf of ILGA-Europe in this case before the ECJ.

The Advocate General Damaso in his opinion delivered today, made a number of important points:

  • the 2000/78/EC Directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation has direct effect in EU member states even when a state has not fully transposed it at national level;
  • Salary should be interpreted broadly and should also include pension payments by employers towards employee’s private pension funds;
  • Refusal to pay Mr Maruko survivor’s pension constitutes indirect discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe, said:

“We welcome the opinion of the Advocate General Damaso. Although this is not yet a final decision of the ECJ for which we still have to wait, we hope this opinion will pave the way for more equal and fair treatment of same-sex partners in the European Union.

One of the main objectives of ILGA-Europe is to ensure that same-sex partners have the same rights and treatment in all European states as opposite sex partners do.

Only in a minority of European countries do same-sex partners and their children enjoy full equality with opposite sex partners and their children. This situation is far from being fair or equal. We hope that today’s opinion of the Advocate General Damaso will pave the way towards full recognition and protections of the rights of same-sex partners in the EU.”

Ends

For more information please contact
Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375

Notes for editors:

(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.

(2) Text of the opinion of the Advocate General is available in various languages at the website of the European Court of Justice: http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=EN&Submit=Rechercher$docrequire=alldocs&numaff=C-267/06&datefs=&datefe=&nomusuel=&domaine=&mots=&resmax=100

(3) Website of Dr Helmut Graupner, represents ILGA-Europe in this case before the ECJ: www.graupner.at