UK - A financial planning firm has accused "homophobic" trustees of refusing to pay pensions to gay couples.
And it claims new civil partnership laws – which were outlined in the Queen’s Speech – will do nothing to stop the practice.
Isis Financial Planners director Louis Letourneau said it was common for schemes to refuse to pay a gay partner because of trustee discrimination.
“It is inevitable that if trustees have the right to not pay out, and they are homophobic, they will not be sympathetic to gay partners. It has happened with hundreds of schemes – both small and large – and it will continue to happen.”
New civil partnership laws – which will come into force in 2005 – will enable same-sex couples over 18 years to register their relationship and allow it to be recognised by law.
However, trustees in the private sector will still be entitled to refuse payment to a partner if they do not believe the relationship was financially co-dependent.
Trustee Risk Management chairman Brian Holden hit out at the discrimination claim.
He said: “I certainly don’t agree with that and have never seen that happen on any of the trustee boards I have been involved with.”
He added: “It would be silly to say this never happens but I think most trustees act with professionalism in deciding whether or not a partner was dependent on the deceased member.”
Thomas Eggar Trust Corporation director Vernon Holgate admitted that the system is open to abuse.
He said: “There are some bulldogs out there. There are trustees who take a strong view and it is just a case of watching out for them and stopping this going on.”
Under the Pensions Bill, a Civil Partnership Register is to be set up which will create the new legal status of “registered civil partners”.
This will only be applied to the state pension from 2010.
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