Eurovision and love brought Federico to Denmark: Now he is fighting for the rights of his LGBTQ+ colleagues
By chance, Colombian Federico Luna Thorrens found everything he was looking for in Denmark and at Danske Bank. Now he is committed to making a difference for LGBTQ+ colleagues at the bank.
Maternity and paternity rights for rainbow families and guidance on how to make working life easier for transgender colleagues.
These are just some of the issues put on the agenda by “Danske Rainbow Network” and subsequently implemented by Danske Bank.
The network was founded and is run by employees and is for LGBTQ+ persons and allies in the form of Danske Bank employees. Its purpose is, for instance, to influence the bank in relation to diversity and inclusion.
One of the persons fighting to put the network and its work on the agenda is Federico Luna Thorrens, AML Adviser at the bank and Vice Chairman of Danske Rainbow Network.
And the 33-year-old Colombian believes that the rainbow network is important for several reasons.
"It makes us talk and think about diversity from a different perspective. And it's not merely a place of comfort to people, but also a place where they can relax and be who they are. In addition, it helps not only the bank, but also people outside the bank and society in general to look to the future," says Federico Luna Thorrens, who is homosexual and very open about it.
In his case, the network has also provided him with a community beyond that which he enjoys with his closest colleagues. Something that means a lot to him – especially as a foreigner in Denmark.
Came to Denmark by coincidence
It was somewhat of a coincidence that brought Federico Luna Thorrens to Denmark.
Or, in fact, it was the Eurovision Song Contest that drew him to our northern part of the world.
In 2013, the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Malmö, but as all overnight accommodation was fully booked in the Swedish city, Federico Luna Thorrens headed for Copenhagen.
By chance, he met a man with whom he fell in love. And while the Danes recovered from Emilie De Forrest's surprising Eurovision victory in Malmö, both Federico Luna Thorrens’ love and Copenhagen grew on him.
"Love brought me here. The relationship eventually ended, but by then I had fallen in love with the country and the city, and so I decided to stay," says Federico Luna Thorrens with a laugh while gesturing towards the capital's towers from the roof terrace of Danske Bank's headquarters at Holmens Kanal.
Would not stay in Colombia
The Colombian has always known that he would not remain in his home country.
"In Colombia, people are under constant stress when it comes to safety, crime and the amount of corruption. As this is something I can't change, and since I only have one life, I decided to do my very best to find happiness somewhere else," Federico Luna Thorrens explains.
He grew up in a family from a low social class in the South American country. He attended a Catholic primary school with very conservative and strict values, which initially made him tuck away his feelings and thoughts about his sexuality. However, that changed when he entered university and started enjoying considerable freedom to be himself.
Federico Luna Thorrens has always had the support of his family; even when it came to his sexuality. His family has always welcomed his partners with open arms.
"The most important thing to my family is that I'm with someone I love and who loves me – then gender doesn't matter. I’m highly privileged in that regard, and I know many others who did not have this option," he says.
But for him, it all fell into place when he came to Denmark.
"When I got here, I realised this was exactly what I had been looking for," he explains.
"Danske Bank has given me a place to belong"
Danske Bank also plays a key role in the story. Federico Luna Thorrens began working at the bank three years ago, only a few months prior to the Corona pandemic depopulating the country's workplaces.
As a trained ethnogeographer, it was not written in the stars that he would be working at a Danish bank. But, facilitated by an acquaintance’s recommendation, his experience from a customer service department in a health insurance company led him to Danske Bank's LC&I department, where he currently works.
The bank helped him in the process of obtaining a work and residence permit in Denmark – something which can be difficult for non-EU citizens.
And that means the world to Federico Luna Thorrens.
"It definitely changed my life from being close to going back to Colombia to finally feeling like there's a place I belong. I will always be grateful to Danske Bank for giving me this opportunity," he says.
From 30 to 600 members
That is one of the reasons why it means so much to him to put his back into the rainbow network, which, in his view, helps build Danske Bank’s reputation as a more inclusive place to work.
"Employees are not the same, and it's not just about sexual orientation. With globalisation comes people like me who move around the world, and the bank also has offices in India, Lithuania, Poland and Norway. In addition, we now have more women in senior positions. The fact is, overall, that there are, and will be even more, different faces at the bank," says Federico Luna Thorrens.
He emphasises that the network, which has grown from 30 people at its launch in 2019 to more than 600 members today, is independent and run by the employees. There is, however, an effective and constructive collaboration in place with the management, who also provides financial support and consults with the network when implementing new policies and guidelines at the bank.
"I’m very proud of the things the network has achieved. And I find it deeply touching when, for example, same-sex parents obtain the same maternity and paternity rights as everyone else in the bank – and that we are actually also an inspiration to rainbow networks in other companies in terms of making changes to achieve a better life for everyone," says Federico Luna Thorrens.
Join Copenhagen Pride on 19 August
Help us flag Finansforbundet's work for "The right to be you" at this year's Copenhagen Pride.
In this connection, we also want to celebrate that the new collective agreement now provides equal rights to maternity leave for co-mothers and paternity leave for fathers.
As a member, you and your family/friends are invited.