European court tells Swiss to end discrimination against men

Oct 11, 2022, 7:52 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2022, 7:53 am

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland is grappling with how to respond to a ruling from Europe’s top human rights court that Swiss law unfairly discriminates against men — because widowers receive lower state allocation payments than widows do.

It has set in motion a debate about whether to give more money to men or pay less to women.

The Swiss legislature is confronted with a balancing act on how to fall into line with a European Court of Human Rights decision on Tuesday that found a middle-aged widower, Max Beeler, was unfairly stripped of his state allocations once his children became adults.

“The federal law on old-age and survivors’ insurance provided that entitlement to a widower’s pension ended when the youngest child reached the age of 18, whereas this was not the case for a widow,” the court based in Strasbourg, France, said. It found that the widower “had not been treated in the same way as a woman/widow.”

“He had therefore been subjected to unequal treatment,” the court added.

ECHR decisions generally require countries, like Switzerland, who are members of the Council of Europe to accept and apply its rulings — and Swiss legislators will now be tasked with adapting Swiss law to eliminate any discrimination against widowers.

Switzerland has often faced criticism for being too slow compared to other European countries to give equal status and rights to women — particularly when it comes to workplace pay. While the country adopted universal suffrage in 1971, one region — Appenzell-Innerrhoden — was the last in Switzerland to give equal voting rights to women in local elections, following a Swiss high court ruling in 1990.

This particular widower case had its origins in personal tragedy.

In the summer of 1994, Beeler and his Peruvian-born wife Maria were hiking along the bucolic Ebenzell peak in the Swiss Alps — located in Appenzell-Innerrhoden near the Liechtenstein border — when she slipped on a rocky stretch and fell 40 meters to her death, according to Swiss media.

Beeler, stricken by grief, opted to quit his job to care for his two daughters — aged 2 and 4 at the time — and benefited from state payments. When the younger daughter reached 18, those allocations stopped — prompting him to seek redress in the courts. He was 57 and hadn’t been in the job market for 16 years.

The Swiss government had argued that it was “justifiable to rely on the presumption that the husband provided for the financial maintenance of the wife, particularly where she had children, and thus to afford a higher level of protection to widows than to widowers,” the court said.

“In their view, the difference in treatment was therefore based not on gender stereotyping but on social reality,” it added.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chi...
David Klepper, Associated Press

Twitter ends enforcement of COVID misinformation policy

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus. Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi Miyamura, a corporal in the U.S. Army during the Korean War...
Associated Press

US Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi Miyamura dies at 97

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, the son of Japanese immigrants who was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor for holding off an attack to allow an American squad to withdraw during the Korean War, has died. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced that Miyamura died Tuesday at his home in Phoenix. He […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Amazon says it had its biggest Thanksgiving shopping weekend

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon said Wednesday it had its biggest ever Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, aided by a record number of consumers looking for deals online amid high inflation. The e-commerce company does not typically share how much it earns during its sales events and did not disclose its overall revenue from the weekend. […]
1 day ago
Maria Correa, of Washington, center, who says she is sick with cancer, cannot work, and that things...
Associated Press

Higher food prices worsen hunger crisis this holiday season

WASHINGTON (AP) — Staffers at Bread for the City, a venerable charity in the nation’s capital, thought they were prepared for this year’s annual pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Helpers food giveaway. The pandemic had faded, but inflation was high, so they budgeted to give out 12,000 meals, 20% higher than normal pre-pandemic levels. But they were quickly […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

US Sen. Mike Braun files paperwork for Indiana governor run

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun formally launched a committee Wednesday for a 2024 campaign for governor in his home state of Indiana, a move that would forego a reelection bid for his Senate seat. Braun, the 68-year-old wealthy founder of a national auto parts distribution business, is the most prominent of several […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

19 injured in ethane explosion in southern Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz said 19 people were injured where a pipeline carrying ethane gas exploded. The Veracruz state civil defense office said most of the people injured in the explosion Tuesday in the town of Agua Dulce suffered first-degree burns. As of Wednesday, the government-owned […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
European court tells Swiss to end discrimination against men