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Is Portugal a gay-friendly country?

23 de August, 2022

Is Portugal a gay-friendly country?

Portugal is considered a gay-friendly destination because several rights that protect LGBTQIA+ citizens are recognized in the country.
Reading: 8 min

It is no news that the number of foreigners moving to Portugal has grown a lot in recent years. And today we will answer a question that interests a large part of these people: is Portugal a gay friendly country?

In this article we will show some of the most up-to-date data about the reality of LGBTQIA+ people in the country, the rights already consolidated and what is yet to be conquered. We will also show some of the experiences of those who live this reality on a daily basis to know if Portugal is really a good destination. Let’s go?

Read also: Portugal is one of the World’s Friendliest Countries and Europe’s Best Country for Expatriates

Is Portugal an LGBTQIA+ friendly country?

In general, yes!

Portugal is considered a gay-friendly destination because several rights that protect LGBTQIA+ citizens in its territory are recognized in the country – which shows respect to a significant part of the population.

Of course there is still a lot to advance, there are some rights and guarantees to conquer. And to better explain which are the positive points and the ones that still need to be better observed, we will use the data from the ILGA Europes Annual Report on the Human Rights situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People.

The document is published annually by ILGA (Intervenção Lésbica, Gay, Bisexual, Trans e Intersexo), the oldest association in the country (founded in 1995) that fights for the defense of human rights of LGBTQIA+ people in Portugal.

Key data from the report

Among the countries evaluated by ILGA, Portugal occupies the 7th position in the ranking Rainbow Map 2022. In the overall score of LGBTQIA+ human rights already achieved, Portugal has an index of 62%, sharing 7th place with Spain.

The highest individual index is related to the space conquered by LGBTQIA+ in Portuguese civil society, in which 100% of the rights considered as goals were conquered. Examples are the fact that the defenders of these rights are not at risk, and that there are no laws against freedom of expression.

As for family rights, 86% of those foreseen have already been conquered in the country. As for gender recognition rights, the rate is 73%.

The demands that need more attention and improvement of public policies are linked to equity and non-discrimination, currently the rate of goals achieved is 43%. The area that needs more government interest is the creation of asylum policies specifically aimed at LGBTQIA+ protection, with a current rate of 33%.

LGBTQIA+ Community in Portugal

Now let’s talk a little more about the feelings experienced on a daily basis and what it is like to be an LGBTQIA+ person in Portugal.

The first point to comment on is: prejudice also exists in Portugal, and in fact this happens in every country. That is, homophobia can also be a reality in this country and we cannot guarantee that you will not experience a bad situation or, at least, have an unpleasant experience at some point.

But on a day-to-day basis, this happens less frequently, or perhaps with less violence than we usually see in Brazil, for example. In other words, even though the country is not a territory free of prejudice, the feeling of safety and respect is definitely greater.

Data on violence in Portugal

According to the most recently published data (in 2019), 171 reports of discrimination or violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression were recorded in Portugal in the survey year.

Of these, the largest register (about 45%), were verbal or written insults or threats, and 8% were attempted or physical aggression. The registration of deaths, although it still happens eventually, is much rarer, especially if we compare it to the Brazilian reality.

Below you will meet three people I talked to who recognize that Portugal’s scenery is not perfect, but it is much more reassuring.

Brazilian LGBTQIA+ in Portugal

When I was writing this article, I talked to Luiza Porto, Marcia Bellotti and José Junior to learn more about their opinion on these issues.

The three of them moved to Portugal the same year, in 2015. He had the desire to live in a more egalitarian society, to stay away from violence in social relationships and from the blatant prejudice that is socially accepted in many situations.

Luiza, on the other hand, wanted, among other reasons, to feel safer and more respected. Taking the opportunity to participate in an artist residency, she came to live in Portugal and stayed here.

Portugal is gay friendly: an interview with Luiza Porto
Luiza Porto. Personal file photo.

Márcia also came to participate in an artist residency and wanted to experience a different reality from Rio de Janeiro, where she lived and had already suffered countless verbal and physical aggressions for being queer.

The feeling of living in Portugal

All three told me that they are very satisfied with their decision to live in the country, and Luiza points out that “life here is actually much more peaceful. Marcia understands that Portugal is a non-violent country in general and, because of this, it is safer for the LGBTQIA+ community.

But she pointed out that: “everywhere in the world there are exceptions and there are potentially violent people on the loose. So I keep my foot back in many situations.

About the advantage of being an LGBTQIA+ person living in Portugal, Luiza finished by sharing that feeling:

It has the advantage of not being a country where the population is violent (I mean physical violence). Although I feel there is a lot of judgment in the look and it is still a space with little diversity.

Is it difficult to immigrate to Portugal?

Immigrating is never an easy task, for several reasons.

As we always say in our articles here at Euro Tips, legal immigration requires a lot of planning and patience to fulfill all the necessary steps that guarantee a smooth move.

So if you are an LGBTQIA+ person who also has plans to move to Portugal, the first step is to start your planning. Be patient, it will be worth it, and be sure to do everything according to the entry rules provided for the country.

Although it is not such a simple process, it is perfectly possible. Know that Portugal offers many solutions and several types of visas that meet different needs and make the legal entry of Brazilians in the country a reality.

Visa for Portugal

As we said, there are many solutions for you to immigrate legally, since there is a wide range of visas to Portugal that can be requested by Brazilians. Therefore, check which visa is the most suitable for your situation and be prepared to submit the request when the time comes.

Among the most commonly used are student visas, work visas, own income visas (for retirees and income earners), and entrepreneur visas.

I want to feel more secure/accepted. Is Portugal a good bet?

Absolutely!

As we have said throughout the article, there is still room for improvement in protecting the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, but Portugal is a gay friendly country and a good destination for those who want to feel safer and with freedom to be who they are.

I took the opportunity and asked this question to our interviewees. José commented that he recognizes that there is still a certain conservatism in Portuguese society, but that there are rare cases in which LGBTQIA+ people are very prejudiced.

Luiza, on the other hand, told me that she definitely feels safer in Portugal. She comments that feeling “accepted” may not be the best way to express the feeling, and she thinks “tolerated” is the best definition.

Portugal is a gay-friendly country: interview with Márcia Bellotti
Márcia Bellotti. Personal file photo.

When I questioned Marcia about this, she told me that acceptance depends a lot on her and that it has no direct connection with the place she is in. And she added:

But I definitely feel safer here, although it has to do not only with being queer, but with the fact that it is a more peaceful country overall than most countries in the world.

Positive points for the LGTBQIA+ community in Portugal

As we said, there are many rights that are already protected in the country, and the ILGA report highlights the main ones:

  • Prohibition of prejudice or deprivation of full access to rights on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (such as, for example, guaranteeing the right to adopt children by homosexual couples – which in Portugal has been allowed since 2016; or the right to marry – guaranteed since 2010);
  • Prohibition of discrimination regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in the professional and school environment;
  • Existence of a specific law that guarantees the right to self-determination of identity, gender expression and protection of individual sexual characteristics (Law No. 38/2018);
  • Prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people in the act of blood donation;
  • Marriage equality that is guaranteed by civil marriage between people of the same sex (Law 9/2010);
  • Permitting the adoption of children by homosexual couples (Law No. 2/2016);
  • Right to the medically assisted procreation procedure for couples and singles (Law No. 17/2016);
  • Provision in the Penal Code for penalties for hate crimes and hate speech related to sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • Legal gender recognition procedures, such as name change, no compulsory medical intervention, and legal mechanisms for gender recognition for those under 18.

Negative points in Portugal

As situations that still need more attention by the Government of Portugal and the creation of protection policies, the following are highlighted:

  • Need for the creation of a standard that prohibits conversion therapy;
  • More assurance of safe, quality health care service delivery to meet the needs of transgender people;
  • Implementation of policies that guarantee asylum to people at risk because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Increased protection of LGBTQIA+ children and youth, especially those living in highly vulnerable situations.

Associations supporting LGBTQIA+ in Portugal

If you are also an LGBTQIA+ person who lives or intends to live in Portugal, you should know that you can count on the support and information provided by several organizations such as Associação ILGA, AMPLOS (Association of Mothers and Fathers for Freedom of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) and Centro Gis (LGBTQIA+ Answers Center).

For further information, contact Associação Queer Tropical or for help in situations of violence, contact APAV (Portuguese Association for Victim Support).

Article by Tié Lenzi, originally published on the Eurodicas website.

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