Forces review rights for gay partners

A review by the armed forces is under way which could mean the partners of
gay personnel will receive the same rights as spouses.

The review could result in homosexual couples being allowed to live together
in Army accommodation and be eligible for pension benefits.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said that the review would be
looking at the whole issue of benefits for unmarried partners of forces
personnel.

He said, "A review involving all three forces is currently at a very
early stage involving many complex issues. In view of the need to reflect the
wider views of society, this will take some time.

"The services are looking at the whole question of unmarried people
living together and homosexuality has to be considered."

He stressed that pension benefits are currently determined by marital
status, but added that any changes to pension eligibility would not be
retrospective.

The review comes ahead of a European equal treatment directive that will
come into force in 2003, which will make it illegal for employers to
discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Jonathan Chamberlain, employment law specialist at Wragge & Co, said the
review reflected the need for all employers to prepare for compliance.
"Employers are being asked to lead across a social minefield," he
said.

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