“Spinster Sisters Claim UK Gay Partner Law Discriminates Against Them”

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This blog has a post tag category for “Sisters In Other Nations” but usually it isn’t meant quite so literally. Via FemmeNoir:

Two elderly sisters who live together say they could lose their family home because they are victims of discrimination under Britain’s civil partner law and they’ve taken their case to European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Seventeen judges of the court’s Grand Chamber were told that death duties as single people would be so high they could not afford to keep the house they grew up in.

Both women are in their eighties.

In their lawsuit Joyce Burden and her sister Sybil (pictured) claim that when one of them dies the other would be required to pay massive inheritance taxes.

They argue that the taxes would be unfair since unmarried same-sex couples are exempt from the tax under Britain’s civil partnership law.

In UK law there is a 40 percent inheritance tax an exemption for the first $500,000. Married couples, and couples in civil partnerships, are exempt from the tax.

The sisters’ house cost about $14,000 to build in 1965 but was recently valued last at about $1.6 million.   That would mean the surviving sister would be required to pay nearly $600,000 in death tax.

Both women live on their social security.

The women’s lawyer says that when the law, allowing gay and lesbian couples to register their partnerships and attain all of the rights of marriage, was passed it should have included cohabitating family members who are dependent on one another. …

Families can configure themselves in a lot of different ways. Legal systems need to do a better job of recognizing that.

–Ann Bartow

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