Full pension protection has always been one of the key goals of marriage equality campaigners. Before civil partnerships, and then same-sex marriage, occupational pension schemes could choose to offer a pension to a surviving same-sex partner, but they did not have to.
When civil partnerships were introduced in December 2005, the government only required private sector employers to provide equal pensions to surviving same-sex partners in relation to future service from that point (though same-sex partner benefits were granted to members of public service pension schemes based on service back to April 1988).
This meant that same-sex partners were only partly protected and might be entitled to far less pension than a surviving opposite-sex partner would have been (the potential discrepancy was particularly significant for members of private sector schemes).
Frustrated at this position, a pension scheme member brought a legal challenge to scheme rules that meant his same-sex partner would receive a much lower pension if he survived him than a surviving opposite-sex partner would have been entitled to. Because of the rules of his particular scheme, the difference was a pension of £1,000 a year compared to £45,000 a year.
The government intervened in the case to defend the discrimination. In July 2017, the Supreme Court finally ruled that the discrimination was incompatible with EU law and had to be disapplied. There was no legal basis for pension discrimination against scheme members with same-sex partners.
The government did not respond to the Supreme Court judgment until April 2018 when it announced that Treasury officials had written to public sector pension schemes about the implications of the judgments. Prospect is speaking to a number of these schemes about implementing full pension equality for same-sex couples. Hopefully this will finally come in officially during 2019.