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Most of the issues, advice and policies relating to later life apply to everyone equally, but there are some things that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBTQ+) people differently. Some things might just need special consideration.


What are my rights regarding relationships?

If you'd like to, you and your partner can marry or register a civil partnership. Both are wonderful ways to publicly celebrate your love for one another. Getting married or forming a civil partnership also gives you greater legal rights in areas such as property, medical care and inheritance, and can provide increased security for you both in later life, or if one of you dies.


You can choose to have either a civil or religious marriage ceremony. However, it’s worth noting that not all faith organisations will marry same-sex couples – and they’re not legally obliged to.

If you and your partner are already in a civil partnership, you can convert this into a marriage if you want to.

Civil partnerships

In practical terms, a civil partnership grants you almost all the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.

A civil partnership is created when two people sign a civil partnership document in the presence of a registrar and witnesses. The ceremony can take place in a registry office or other registered premises, such as a hotel. It can also be conducted in a religious building, such as a church or synagogue, if they agree to it – but the ceremony itself can’t have religious content.

Once you've registered a civil partnership, you and your partner can be referred to as ‘civil partners’.

What are my rights regarding healthcare?

Healthcare services have a duty to be fair and equal in their provision of care. But if you've faced discrimination in the past, it’s understandable to worry about it happening again.

NHS services

Every GP surgery should have a policy on equality and diversity, which you can ask to see when registering as a patient – or at any time afterwards.

You should feel confident that any information you share with NHS staff is confidential. There are strict laws to ensure the security of health records.

What are my rights regarding money and finances?

If you're in a relationship, you might wonder how that can affect your finances, from pensions to benefits.

You can speak to our Information & Advice team would can help you explore your rights, entitlements or access to other benefits.

Can I claim my spouse or civil partner's pension?

  • State Pension. State Pension is based on someone's own National Insurance contributions. In general, you won't be able to claim on your spouse or civil partner’s contributions, either at retirement or if you’re widowed or divorced. However, if you reached State Pension age on or before 5 April 2016 and you don’t have enough National Insurance contributions in your own right, you might qualify for a basic State Pension based on your spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance contributions.
  • Private pensions. You’re entitled to a survivor’s pension from your spouse or civil partner’s occupational pension if they die. However, if you're a same-sex couple, workplace pension schemes only have to grant survivor’s benefits to you based on your partner's contributions from 2005 onwards. This is in line with the law, but it means you might be entitled to less money than heterosexual couples.

Private pension schemes aren’t legally required to extend survivor benefits to unmarried/unregistered partners – but you can nominate someone to benefit from your pension when you die.

What happens if my partner dies? 

Civil partners and same-sex spouses register the death of their partner in the same way as heterosexual married couples and are entitled to Bereavement Support Payment.

In the future, eligibility for Bereavement Support Payment is being extended to unmarried couples with dependent children. You can get in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Bereavement Service to check eligibility or to make a claim on 0800 151 2012.

What are my rights regarding protection from discrimination?

Sadly, discrimination is something many LGBTQ+ people still experience. However, there are laws in place to protect you, and lots of organisations that can offer help and support.

What's the law on discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against people with ‘protected characteristics’. These characteristics include:

  • age
  • sex
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • sexual orientation.

The Act covers you at work and when you're accessing goods and services – for instance, in shops, hotels, healthcare settings and care homes. It means that an organisation can't refuse you services or treat you worse than others because of your sexual orientation or your gender identity.

If you have a complaint, you must first go through the organisation’s standard complaints process – for example, writing to the manager. If you’re unhappy with the response you get, you might need to seek further advice about how to take your case forward, depending on the organisation.

What can I do if I've been discriminated against?

It's important to remember that the law's on your side. If a crime is motivated by homophobia or transphobia, the police can take this into account and it can be used in sentencing.


Want further information? Click the links below for guides from Age UK National

LGBT+ Information Guide 

Information & Advice team