Pensions analysis: A ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union in MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Case C-451/16  All ER (D) 135 (Jun) that EU law precludes UK legislation which requires a woman who had previously been a married man to be no longer married to a woman in order to be able to claim a state retirement pension as from the statutory pensionable age applicable to women is examined by Dr Christopher Stothers, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. This case has significant implications on how countries recognise changes to gender.
What are the practical implications of the judgment?
The UK cannot require women who were born male to end their marriages to their wives before they will be entitled to a state pension.
Same-sex marriage is now permitted in England and Wales since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (MSSCA 2013) came into force, and in Scotland following the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. Nevertheless, this case has important implications not only for those affected historically but also in Northern Ireland (where same-sex marriage is not permitted) and, more broadly, on the way in which countries are required to recognise change of gender.