ECJ rules UK discriminated against transgender woman seeking pension at 60 | News | DW | 26.06.2018
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ECJ rules UK discriminated against transgender woman seeking pension at 60

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the UK discriminated against a married transgender woman seeking a state pension. The claimant sought a state pension at the age available for women after her sex change.

The UK discriminated against a married transgender woman by refusing her a state pension unless she annulled her marriage, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.

The claimant, only named as MB by the court, was born a male in 1948 and married a woman in 1974.

In 1991, MB began to live as a woman and had sex reassignment surgery in 1995.

Read more: EU court bars sexual orientation tests for asylum-seekers

MB sought a state retirement pension in 2008 at the age of 60, as allowed for women born before April 1950. For men born before December 1953, the British retirement age is 65. (New legislation is gradually introducing a gender-neutral retirement age of 66 in Britain.)

However, the UK denied MB the state pension at age 60 because she had not acquired a gender reassignment certificate, which under national legislation could only be granted if a transgender person annulled their marriage. 

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A law allowing same-sex marriage in the UK that came into force in 2014 altered the annulment requirement, instead mandating that a married person's spouse consent in order for the transgender person to receive the gender recognition certificate.

MB had argued she did not want to annul the marriage for religious reasons.

Read more: ECJ: Same-sex spouses of EU citizens have residency rights 

The case went to the UK's Supreme Court; its judges sent it to the European Court of Justice. The EU court found that the UK had discriminated based on sex.

"A person who has changed gender cannot be required to annul the marriage which he or she entered into before that change of gender in order to be entitled to receive a retirement pension at the age provided for persons of the sex which he or she has acquired," the court ruled.

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