Key facts of the case:
This case involved a reference to the ECJ for an interpretation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. The question was whether the refusal to award a pension to the survivor of a same-sex partnership between individuals who had not married because, under national law, marriage is restricted to heterosexual unions amounted to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The ECJ held that “the combined provisions of Articles 1 and 2 of Directive 2000/78 preclude legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings under which, after the death of his life partner, the surviving partner does not receive a survivor’s benefit equivalent to that granted to a surviving spouse, even though, under national law, life partnership places persons of the same sex in a situation comparable to that of spouses so far as concerns that survivor’s benefit. It is for the referring court to determine whether a surviving life partner is in a situation comparable to that of a spouse who is entitled to the survivor’s benefit” (para 73)
Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:
EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - Articles: 21 and 23 The ECJ held that the national provision could be construed as directly discriminatory. It stated that “[i]f the referring court decides that surviving spouses and surviving life partners are in a comparable situation so far as concerns that survivor’s benefit, legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings must, as a consequence, be considered to constitute direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, within the meaning of Articles 1 and 2(2)(a) of Directive 2000/78.” (para 72)