Deutsche Bank honored for its commitment against LGBTQ persecution

November 2020 │ New York

Immigration Equality has awarded Deutsche Bank in recognition of its pro bono legal assistance and advocacy.

US LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrant rights organization “Immigration Equality” has awarded its first Safe Haven Corporate Award to Deutsche Bank, recognizing the bank’s pro bono legal assistance in the fight for asylum for LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants facing persecution and brutality in their home countries.

Since 2018, the bank has represented seven individuals free of charge. Of those, four have been granted asylum and three cases are still pending. Sarah Levitt, who has led many of these efforts together with colleagues in the New York Legal team and in partnership with other departments of the bank, said: “Over the past few years, Deutsche Bank volunteers have given hundreds of hours of their free time working to help LGBTQ refugees escape persecution and discrimination. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the positive impact this work is having.”

One person they helped is a man from Uzbekistan, who had been arrested twice because he is gay, and put on a blacklist that prevented him from receiving life-saving HIV treatment. Thanks to the legal assistance Deutsche Bank volunteers provided, he is now living and working in the United States with his husband, who has also been granted asylum. Both are now also receiving the necessary medication and are in much better health. In another example, volunteers at the bank worked with Immigration Equality to win a grant of asylum for a transgender woman from India who had suffered persecution, including both physical and verbal assaults from her family and neighbors. Thanks to the assistance of the bank and Immigration Equality she was able to remain in the US, where she is now working in the tech industry and has developed close friendships for the first time in her life. Deutsche Bank volunteers also helped a gay man from Guyana receive asylum after he had suffered regular harassment and violence because of his sexual orientation.

Accepting the award on behalf of the bank at a virtual award ceremony that was streamed online, Joe Salama, Global Head of Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement and Interim General Counsel for the Americas said: “The work which has been accomplished is nothing short of saving lives. I want to thank Immigration Equality for the incredible job they do and for giving us the opportunity to be a part of it. I especially want to thank all my colleagues at the bank who have recognized these injustices and have worked so hard to do something about it.”

Founded in 1994, Immigration Equality represents and advocates for people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse, and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. As of today, it is still illegal to be gay in almost 80 countries around the world, and dangerous in many more. The Safe Haven Awards honor the dedication of attorneys and corporate supporters working pro bono to fight these injustices.

Deutsche Bank has also had a long track record of corporate activism in supporting LGBTQ rights, including Amicus Curiae Briefs, public advocacy, and through all of the work of dbPride.


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