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State Pension: Discrimination Addressed In Gay Marriage Consultation/ 4.4.2012• Marc Simpson• Posted At 10:00 AM

The discriminatory way in which the state pension treats surviving partners in a civil partnership is to be addressed by the gay marriage consultation. Currently, men and women in a civil partnership are treated as if they are straight man by the state pension.

This is because when parliament enacted the civil partnership legislation, they decided to class all civil partners as a straight man for inheriting state pension rights.  Under the current pension system, a widow is normally entitled to a larger portion of her dead husband’s pension than a widower is of his dead wife’s state pension.

For gay couples, regardless of whether they are male or female, they are treated as if they are a widower.


The Government is currently doing a consultation into giving gay couples equal marriage rights and has said it hopes to do so by 2015. The Government has said that it plans on addressing this state pension issue in the consultation it is currently undertaking, as well as various other pension issues that could come up, such as passing on inheritance rights for private pensions using accruals made before 2006.

Currently, in the private sector, pension schemes are only required to give surviving partner benefits to surviving same sex partners based on pension accruals from 2006, when civil partnerships became legal. The Government has said this could change under the consultation.

Due to a multitude of different discriminatory measures, same sex couples have found themselves forced to save more in personal pensions, such as those offered by providers like Virgin Money, in order to ensure they have adequate pension provision.


The current system discriminates against both widowers and civil partners. One possible solution, and the one likely to keep the most amount of people happy would be to treat everyone as a widow as women are entitled to more pension inheritance.

However, such a move would also be the most expensive for the Government. The consultation document does not say how it plans on fixing the disparity, but it does say the Government is looking on “what basis these provisions should be extended to equal civil marriages.”

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