Magazine article European Social Policy

Social Security : Ecj Defends Pension Rights of Transsexuals

Magazine article European Social Policy

Social Security : Ecj Defends Pension Rights of Transsexuals

Article excerpt

The European Court of Justice ruledaon 27 April that the refusal to grant an occupational pension at the normal female retirement age to aa transsexual who had undergone a gender reassignment operation from male to female constitutes a violation of EU law (Case C-423/04).

Sarah Margaret Richards was born a male but underwent gender-reassignment surgery in 2001. In 2002, she applied for a pension to be paid as from her 60th birthday (the legal retirement age for men in the UK is 65 and for women 60) but was turned down by the UK Department for Work and Pensions on the grounds that the request had been made more than four months before the applicant's 65th birthday - officially Ms Richards was still considered to be male.

Under UK law prior to April 2005, the sex of a person for social security purposes is that stated on his or her birth certificate, which can be changed only to rectify clerical or factual errors. The upshot is that transsexuals who have undergone gender-reassignment surgery cannot change their sex on their birth certificate. The Gender Recognition Act 2004, which came into force on April 4, 2005, allows for the issuing of gender recognition certificates to transsexuals under certain conditions but this has no retroactive effect.

A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT

The Court first recalled that 'the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sex is one of the fundamental human rights the observance of which the Court has a duty to ensure'. …

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