UK - The Church of England is set to snub government moves to give same-sex couples the same pension rights as married couples.
Under the government’s plans, same-sex couples would get the right to joint state benefits, claim survivor pensions and bereavement benefits from schemes as long as they have registered their commitment in a civil ceremony. The consultation period on the government’s plans ends on September 30.
But the CoE said it would oppose any plans that would compel it to give the partners of gay and lesbian CoE scheme members survivor benefits.
A spokesman said that only spouses would receive pension benefits from the £160m CoE pension scheme.
He added: “Our principled response is that we want to see gays and lesbians treated justly, but we want to see this done in a proportionate way that does not undermine the importance of marriage.”
Pinsent Curtis Biddle partner Robin Ellison claimed that the pension scheme of any religious group would be hit by massive internal arguments and possible legal action, if it decided to grant pensions to partners of gay and lesbian members.
Lawyers also warned that the government’s plans would put further pressure on schemes – especially local authorities which pay fewer discretionary benefits.
Simmons & Simmons solicitor Kirsty Bartlett said: “While the intentions behind such a change are undoubtedly good, given the current concerns at the cost of pension provision this is perhaps not the ideal opportunity for the change to be made.”
Bevan Ashford partner James Petit agreed.
He said: “This legislation will put registered partners in the same position as spouses and give them the right to a spouse’s pension in both the public and private sector.
“This means greater liabilities for pension payments on the part of the provider.”
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