Bank of Scotland puts its dark days behind it with 'pink pound' project

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The Independent Online

Bank of Scotland will improve its tarnished image with the gay community with plans to fund a property development by the high profile internet business Queercompany.com.

BoS faced widespread criticism from gay customers and others in 1999 due to its ill-fated association with the right-wing television evangelist Pat Robertson. BoS joined forces with Dr Robertson to launch a telephone banking service in America. The bank, which has now merged with Halifax, scrapped the service after it was deluged with protests and threatened with a boycott by the gay community.

Under today's deal, BoS will provide £600,000 of funding for a subsidiary of Queercompany, called Q Property, to turn an old sweets factory in Brighton into seven houses. According to BoS, the properties will have "a roof terrace, a communal Zen garden and Bauhaus live/ work units."

The bank denied that the tie-up with Queercompany was a bid to rebuild relations with gay and lesbian customers. A spokesman said: "It is a pathetic treatment of this company to brand Q Property with what should be old news. We are not treating them any differently from any other business."

Queercompany said it was happy to work with BoS. "It had the sense to pull the [Robertson] project. We think if they have seen the error of their ways we have no problem with working with them," a spokesman said.

The new properties have been designed by Dominic Richards, the co-founder of Queercompany and a former architectural adviser to the Prince of Wales.

Queercompany calls itself a lifestyle website and has launched a range of projects from a credit card to days out to boost its fortunes by harnessing the pink pound.

Many people objected to BoS's connection with Dr Robertson after he described Scotland as a "dark land" where homosexuals were "strong". He was the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, a religious television channel that he sold to Rupert Murdoch for $1.5bn (£1.1bn) in 1997.

Dr Robertson's forebears left Scotland in 1695 – the same year Bank of Scotland was founded by a decree of the Scottish Parliament.

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