There are all kinds of specialized credit unions in the U.S., and they’re gaining traction in the UK, but the newest thing by far is the LGBTQ credit union — now officially a thing in the U.S. following the launch of Superbia, a credit union in Michigan devoted to serving consumers in the category, who have often been discriminated against in important financial areas such as mortgages. Guardian columnist and political pundit Owen Jones lauds the advent of the latest twist on the credit union model, urging British LGBTQ activists to bring it across the Atlantic.
- Jones cites data from U.S. studies showing that same-sex couples were 73% more likely to be denied for mortgages than heterosexual couples; further, those who are lucky enough to snag a mortgage typically get saddled with higher interest rates, despite actually being less likely to default.
- In addition to making mortgages more accessible to same-sex couples, Superbia is also offering financial products for transgender people who are looking for loans to fund their transition surgery.
- Setting aside the LGBTQ angle, the first hurdle might just be raising awareness that credit unions exist: Jones notes that currently only around two million British people are members of credit unions, compared to 117 million in the U.S.
- If LGBTQ credit unions do gain traction in the U.S., UK and elsewhere, Jones is hopeful that they will put competitive pressure on mainstream financial institutions to be more inclusive and perhaps even widen their range of financial products to cater to this category.