What is the Maruko decision about and why is it so important for us?

The Maruko decision is a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 1st March last year, reflecting the discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in relation to partner benefits under pension schemes and also condemned the clear direction of the European Parliament in its anti-discrimination policies.

But what has happened to Tadao Maruko?

Tadao Maruko lived together with his long term-partner, a designer of theatrical costumes, for a long time. In 2001 Mr. Maruko entered into a life partnership with his long term-partner. His life partner had been a member of the German Theatre Pension Institution since 1st September 1959. This is the institution for German theater’s operating stage relatives. After his life partner died in 2005, Mr. Maruko applied to that institution for a widower’s pension. This request was rejected on the grounds that its regulation contains no right to a widow’s pension for life partners. Mr. Maruko brought this case to court, the process took its course and up to the European Court ruled last March that the denial of a survivor’s pension payment to life partners constitutes direct discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. What causes the Maruko decision to be a landmark ruling. Fortunately, the Bavarian Administrative Court, Munich, (Bayrisches Verwaltungsgericht München) took this decision as a basis and Tadao Maruko made a claim for widower’s pension from now on.

What does the ruling of the ECJ mean for Europe?

“The combined provisions of Articles 1 and 2 of Directive 2000/78 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation preclude legislation under which, after the death of his life partner, the surviving partner does not receive a survivor’s benefit equivalent to that granted to a surviving spouse, even though, under national law, life partnership places persons of the same sex in a situation comparable to that of spouses so far as concerns that survivor’s benefit. It is for the referring court to determine whether a surviving life partner is in a situation comparable to that of a spouse who is entitled to the survivor’s benefit provided for under the occupational pension scheme managed by the pension fund concerned.” However, it is up to the national courts to determine that a life partner is comparable to a spouse. Due to the ruling of the ECJ, Maruko has the federal government and the country pay its officials and supply fairly and state aid rules accordingly. These are the outlines. Their possible implications of the ruling in all European countries are different and depend on the respective national pension schemes. In Germany for instance: The ECJ decision applies to cases of the survivor’s pension from the pension scheme of professional care institution. Now you should think that a ECJ ruling principle spoken law committed discrimination against gays and lesbians in the survivor’s pension should be incorporated to the decisions of Federal Courts. But it’s not. At least, not necessarily. The Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) had recently to decide whether the family surcharge as part of pay is due for a life partner or not. It was rejected by the Court, even though the Maruko decision was published 3 months before. A good sign is that other courts (Schleswig-Holsteinisches Oberverwaltungsgericht) do not follow this federal law and that even an entitlement to a survivor’s pension under the occupational pension has recently found mention of the Federal Labor Court of Germany (BAG) ruling, which means that the ECJ ruling had been confirmed. In Germany homosexuals vehemently argued about when and under what conditions a surviving widow’s pension is granted. That´s why the Maruko decision of the ECJ is important for all current procedures for the granting of, the family supplement the Level 1 (Familienzuschlag der Stufe 1), Aid for life partner (Beihilfe für Lebenspartner), the survivor pension (Hinterbliebenenpension), the company..s pension and survivor (betriebliche Hinterbliebenenrente) and the survivior pension annuity of the liberal professions (Hinterbliebenenrente der Versorgungswerke der freien Berufe).

Bilder hochladen

Foto: Justitia

The fact that the legislature, though not in all European countries but in many, has placed life partnership and marriage on an equal footing does not necessarily mean that life partners in any areas will actually be treated like spouses. The Maruko decision has enormous significance and is a further and also a big step for establishing a general framework for equal treatment and a full legal equality for gay partnerships. But despite this good news there is still a lot to do! The great
work of lesbian and gay clubs is still necessary when it comes to questions like inheritance tax law, the law on personal status or topics such as adoption or artificial insemination and the fight for equal rights in general.

posted on
eurOut 21th January, 2009


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