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Why Did Major U.S. Banks Support a ‘Person of the Year’ Award for Brazil’s Homophobic President? Editors' Picks

Why Did Major U.S. Banks Support a ‘Person of the Year’ Award for Brazil’s Homophobic President?

Written by Matt Baume on May 15, 2019

When one of the gigantic U.S. banks tells you it’s an LGBTQ ally, can you really trust them? Well, let’s take a look at what Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank were up to last night: At the same time we see them sponsoring floats in Pride parades, they also sponsored a “Person of the Year” award for a man who said he’d rather have a dead child than a gay child, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro has made no secret of his homophobia and sexism, not to mention his hostility to indigenous people and a desire to destroy the environment to make a quick buck.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Here’s a quick recap of Bolsonaro’s “greatest hits”:

  • Bolsonaro said “I would be incapable of loving a gay son” and would prefer that a queer child would “die in an accident.”
  • He said gay couples lower property values, a laughable claim to anyone who’s seen how queer people fix neighborhoods that heterosexuals wreck.
  • He said gay parents abuse their children.
  • He said gay-bashing isn’t a problem because “most homosexuals are murdered by their pimps at hours when good citizens are asleep.”
  • He told queer tourists to stop coming to Brazil unless they have sex with women, which seems like a baffling failure to understand that lesbians and bisexuals exist.

These are just a few of his statements on homosexuality. He’s said similarly horrible things about women, about killing political rivals, about destroying the Amazon, about instituting a dictatorship and more.

But despite Bolsonaro’s monstrousness, the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce was set to honor both him and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a “Person of the Year” ceremony last night, May 14. Hosted by the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City — after the city’s American Museum of Natural History dropped the event when the public launched a boycott and the museum’s own staff threatened to resign — some sponsors, like Delta Airlines, pulled out of the event.

But the U.S. banks named above remained steadfast supporters.

Why would they do that? The answer, of course, is money — the only thing that truly matters to the amoral vulture-ghouls who work in banking.

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Bank of America at L.A. Pride

What makes the move so galling is that Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank pretend to be LGBTQ allies. Now we know that’s only when it’s a convenient show. For example, Bank of America runs an Ally Program “to create an inclusive environment where differences are valued and respected.” Those are nice words to hear, but the bank’s actions speak far louder.

JP Morgan Chase, meanwhile, published a statement on its website reading, “By fostering a diverse and inclusive environment in our firm, we can approach challenges and opportunities with myriad viewpoints.” That’s great, but the bank’s financial ties to Bolsonaro officially undercuts those words.

Citibank’s approach was the worst of all the banks: CEO Michael Corbat went on CNBC to say, “We spend a lot of time making sure our people understand the values of our company, and I hope in the case of that, there’s no question in terms of our support, our unwavering support, for our LGBT community.” He’s certainly free to hope that.

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Citibank at London Pride

Ultimately, Bolsonaro himself didn’t even attend last night’s event, which he backed out of, no thanks to any advocacy from U.S. banks but from loud public pressure from real community leaders.

Nothing could have been easier than for those U.S. banks to pull out of the event, and to release statements condemning the homophobic and otherwise hateful president of Brazil.

They didn’t.

The banks’ choices tell you everything you need to know about whether you can trust them.

What do you think of these U.S. banks claiming to support the LGBTQ community but also sponsoring a “Person of the Year” award for Jair Bolsonaro?