Tadao Maruko v Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Buhnen (Case C-267/06)

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a man in Germany should be entitled to the widower’s benefits under his dead male partner’s pension scheme as he was the surviving registered life partner. The court held that refusing to provide the pension constituted direct discrimination as Mr Maruko’s same-sex partnership had been comparable to marriage.

The ruling was based on an EU directive which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Although German law treats only heterosexual unions as marriage, the ruling makes it clear that any country in the EU that gives same-sex couples rights equivalent to marriage should treat the two as comparable.