Bank tells lesbians to change lifestyle for mortgage

Published ¤ 29/07/2010 14:05:20

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A Swedish lesbian couple were told to live separately and reconsider their lifestyle after they submitted a joint mortgage application.

The story reported in a Swedish regional paper The Local Paper reported the couple being dismissed by a bank clerk at Swedbank in Skiljebo in Southern Sweden after they tried to borrow a 490,000 Kronor or £43,000 loan.

The clerk asked Sara Evaldsson, 29, and Maria Engstram, 31 for a 10% deposit despite both being in full-time employment with good credit records.
The local paper reported Engstrom saying: "The woman at the bank was very dismissive. We were going to buy the flat for a good price and we knew that it was a bargain. We had all sorts of papers with us, but she wasn't interested."
When the couple questioned the bank's decision, the clerk said: "You should reconsider your personal situation and continue to live in different places."
"We were shocked. We wondered what on earth she meant. We also wondered whether a heterosexual couple would have been given the same advice. We were also surprised that she said it was a lot of money, as we knew that it was a bargain," Engstram told The Local.
Sweden's Discrimination Ombudsman has been informed by the pair who made a formal complaint.
Reportedly Rival bank Nordea offered them a mortgage later the same day.
Swedbank issued an apology and added: "We take these kinds of incidents very seriously. We have a clear policy that we never discriminate on the grounds of religion, gender or sexual orientation. We also aim to set a good example in questions like this - we sponsor theStockholm Pride festival for instance."
This article was published by Vicky Hartley of Mortgage Solutions on 27 July 2010.

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