Introduction of Pensions Equality Bill

Posted on December 06, 2016

With Senator Ged Nash launching two equality Bills
Pensions (Amendment) Bill & Convictions for Certain Sexual Offences (Apology and Exoneration) Bill 2016

This Bill seeks to address the small number of cases where retired employees who were legally not permitted to marry persons of the same sex before a particular date may be deprived of certain pension benefits.

The Bill was drafted in response to the case of Parris v TCD (Case C‑443/15, 24th November 2016) in which Mr Parris, a retired TCD lecturer, lost his challenge to his employer’s pension scheme before the Court of Justice of the European Union. He had argued that his TCD pension scheme was discriminatory, as it provided that a TCD employee’s partner would only be entitled to a survivor’s pension where the employee had married or entered a civil partnership before reaching the age of 60.

Senator Bacik said:

“This Bill, if passed through the Oireachtas, would represent a small but significant step towards rectifying a continuing discrimination against a small number of individuals, who face the same difficulty as Mr Parris under their pension schemes, despite the passage of the Marriage Equality referendum in 2015.

“Under this Bill, if a pension scheme makes survivor’s pension entitlements dependent on the employee having married or entered a civil partnership before a certain age, this would breach the principle of equal pension treatment on the sexual orientation ground where the employee could not have complied with the requirement because it was legally impossible for them to marry or enter a civil partnership before reaching the required age.

“This Bill represents only a minor amendment to our pension law, but if passed it would make a real difference to a small number of LGBT individuals who face continued discrimination in their pension benefits, despite the Constitutional recognition of marriage equality.”

The Bill and Explanatory Memorandum can be viewed at this link.

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