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Home News Switzerland discriminates against widowers, says European court

Switzerland discriminates against widowers, says European court

Published on 11/10/2022
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The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a complaint made by a Swiss widower alleging discrimination when it comes to survivor’s pension entitlement.

On Tuesday the court found Switzerland guilty of unequal treatment of widowers compared to widows. The former are no longer entitled to a widower’s pension when their youngest child reaches adulthood. This restriction does not apply to widows as Swiss legislation does not consider them as the main breadwinners – and hence accords them a higher level of financial protection. 

The Strasbourg-based court ruled that such a view of gender roles contributed to perpetuating prejudices and stereotypes regarding the role of men and women in society.

“In the Court’s view, the government could not rely on the presumption that the husband supported the wife financially (the “male breadwinner” concept) in order to justify a difference in treatment that put widowers at a disadvantage in relation to widows,” said an official press release on Tuesday.

The ruling could force Switzerland to pay a widower’s pension to other Swiss men who sue. It could also trigger a reform of the survivor’s pension system.