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Supreme Court considers pension equality for surviving spouses of same-sex couples

On 8 March 2017 the Supreme Court began hearing an appeal as to whether a male employee is entitled to require a pension fund to pay a surviving spouse's pension to his civil partner or husband on the same basis that such a pension would be payable if he were married to a woman.

Mr Walker worked for Innospec Ltd from January 1980 until his retirement on 31 March 2003. He was a member of Innospec's pension scheme, which provided that if a member dies on or after 1 December 1999 leaving a surviving spouse, then that spouse will receive a pension for life. At the date of his retirement Mr Walker had been living with his male partner since September 1993.

The Framework Directive established a framework for combating discrimination, including sexual orientation. The United Kingdom was required to transpose that directive into domestic law by 2 December 2003. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005. Mr Walker and his partner registered a civil partnership on 23 January 2006. They have since married.

Innospec informed Mr Walker that, for the purposes of the surviving spouse's pension, he and his partner would only be treated as a married couple from 5 December 2005. Mr Walker brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal against Innospec alleging discrimination. The Employment Tribunal decided in his favour. On appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) reversed that decision; the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the EAT. Mr Walker appealed to the Supreme Court.

The hearing is expected to finish on 9 March 2017.

To read The Guardian's coverage of proceedings , click here.