European Court: Siblings Don’t Get Same Tax Breaks As Civil Partners


Two elderly British sisters have lost their case in the European Court of Human Rights to allow them to avoid inheritance tax when one of them dies. They argued that British law treats them less favourably than a lesbian couple in a civil partnership. The siblings have been living together in Wiltshire since they were born, but Joyce, 88, and Sybil Burden, 90, fear that one of them will be left with a large inheritance tax bill when the other passes away.

In a 15-2 vote, judges sitting in Strasbourg ruled they did are not the victims of discrimination. “The absence of such a legally-binding agreement between the applicants (the Burdens) rendered their relationship of co-habitation, despite its long duration, fundamentally different to that of a married or civil partnership couple.”

The sisters vowed to continue their fight through lobbying politicians. “We are struggling to understand why two single sisters in their old age, whose only crime was to choose to stay single and look after their parents and aunts, should find themselves in such a position in the UK in the 21st Century.”

When gay partner benefits are discussed in Freeperland, a common objection is that if unmarried gay couples get benefits, then anybody who cohabitates should get them as well.