LGBT Life & Retirement in Portugal

  • LGBT Life & Retirement in Portugal

    Posted by Mark Goldstein on September 2, 2020 at 4:17 PM

    LGBT rights in Portugal

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    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Portugal improved substantially in the 2000s and 2010s and are now among the best in the world. After a long period of oppression during the Estado Novo, Portuguese society has become increasingly accepting of homosexuality,[1] which was decriminalized in 1982,[2] eight years after the Carnation Revolution. Portugal has wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws and is one of the few countries in the world to contain a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution. On 5 June 2010, the state became the eighth in the world to recognize same-sex marriage.[3][4][5] On 1 March 2011, the President ratified a gender identity law, said to be one of the most advanced in the world, which simplifies the process of sex and name change for transgender people.[6][7] Same-sex couples have been permitted to adopt since 1 March 2016.[8]

    The country, while still influenced by Roman Catholicism, has progressively become more accepting of same-sex relationships and homosexuality. The 2019 Eurobarometer opinion survey suggests that 74% of the Portuguese population supports same-sex marriage and that around 80% believe that LGBT people should enjoy equal rights. Lisbon and Porto have visible LGBT scenes, with several gay bars, nightclubs, and other venues, as well as their annual pride parades.

    The legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

    Same-sex sexual activity was first decriminalized in 1852, under Mary II and Ferdinand II of the Kingdom of Portugal, but it was made a crime again in 1886, under Louis I, and Portugal gradually became more oppressive of homosexuals until and throughout the dictatorship years.[9] It wasn’t until 1982 that same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized again, and the age of consent was equalized with heterosexual activity at 14 years of age in 2007.

    Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

    Main articles: Same-sex marriage in Portugal and De facto union in Portugal

    Portugal has recognized unregistered cohabitation since 5 May 2001,[10] and same-sex marriage since 5 June 2010.[11] Same-sex marriage was legalized under the second term of the Sócrates Socialist Government and passed the Portuguese Parliament with the support of other leftist parties. Same-sex married couples are granted all of the rights of different-sex married couples. The Penal Code was amended in 2007 to equalize the age of consent and to criminalize domestic violence in same-sex relationships, thus equalizing treatment with opposite-sex couples.[12]

    Adoption and family planning[edit]

    See also: LGBT adoption

    Since 2016, Portuguese law has allowed the adoption of children by same-sex couples. Prior to that reform, same-sex couples were barred from adopting and informally forbidden from fostering children, although there had been several court rulings allowing children to live with same-sex families.

    In the past, Portugal had been forced to pay a fine due to homophobic statements from a court that ruled against a gay father’s right for his daughter’s custody. The European Court of Human Rights received the case and ruled in favor of the father in 1999, demanding the custody back to him and issuing a penalty for the country.

    On 17 May 2013, Parliament rejected a bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, in a 104–77 vote. On the same day, Parliament approved a bill, in its first reading, allowing same-sex married couples to adopt their partner’s children (i.e. stepchild adoption).[13] However, that bill was rejected in its second reading on 14 March 2014, in a 107–112 vote.[14] Other bills granting adoption rights to same-sex parents and carers, as well as in vitro fertilization (IVF) for lesbian relationships, were introduced in Parliament by the opposition Socialist and Left Block parties on 16 January 2015.[15] On 22 January, Parliament rejected the proposals.[16]

    On 23 September 2015, parties from the Left majority in Parliament submitted bills to grant same-sex couples full adoption rights as well as access to IVF.[17][18][19] On 20 November 2015, 5 proposals regarding adoption rights were approved by Parliament in their first readings.[20] The bills were then moved to the Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms, and Guarantees Committee, where they were merged into one project and approved on 16 December 2015.[17] On 18 December 2015, the bill was approved by Parliament.[21][22] On 25 January 2016, one day after the presidential election, outgoing President Aníbal Cavaco Silva vetoed the adoption bill.[23] The Left majority in Parliament announced their intention to override the veto. On 10 February 2016, the veto was overturned by Parliament.[24] The President begrudgingly signed the bill into law on 19 February 2016.[25] The law was published in the official journal on 29 February and took effect the first day of the first month after its publication (i.e. 1 March 2016).[26]

    On 13 May 2016, Parliament adopted a bill to grant female same-sex couples access to medically assisted reproduction.[27][28][29] It was signed into law by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on 7 June.[30][31][32] The law was published in the official journal on 20 June and took effect the first day of the second month after publication (i.e. 1 August 2016).[33][34][35]

    Surrogacy was explicitly banned under a law adopted in 2006. In 2016, the Portuguese Parliament passed a law allowing gestational surrogacy under limited circumstances, such as when a woman is born without a uterus or has a serious illness that affects her uterus. Surrogacy, under any of its forms, is still illegal for same-sex couples.[36][37][38]

    Discrimination protections and hate crime laws[edit]

    In 2003, laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment came into effect concerning three particular measures: access to work and employment, protection against discrimination in work, and against sexual harassment.[39] Since 2004, the Constitution of Portugal has prohibited any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, making Portugal one of the only countries in the world to enshrine a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution.[39][40] A new Penal Code came into force in 2007, strengthening the anti-discrimination legislation much further. The Penal Code contains several provisions that relate to sexual orientation in three aspects: recognition of same-sex relationships through protection in the same means as to different-sex relationships, such as against domestic violence and murder; equal age of consent between same-sex and opposite-sex relationships; and sexual orientation is considered an aggravating circumstance in homicide and hate crime cases.[12] Article 13 of the Portuguese Constitution reads as follows:[40]

    No one may be privileged, favoured, prejudiced, deprived of any right or exempted from any duty for reasons of ancestry, sex, race, language, territory of origin, religion, political or ideological beliefs, education, economic situation, social circumstances or sexual orientation.

    In 2013, the Portuguese Parliament passed a law adding “gender identity” to the hate crimes provision in the Penal Code.[41] On 19 January 2015, the Portuguese Parliament voted for the inclusion of gender identity as a protected ground of discrimination in the field of employment.[42]

    In 2015, the Portuguese Parliament unanimously approved a measure to formally adopt 17 May as the “National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”. In doing so, the Parliament committed to “engage in fulfilling national and international commitments to combat homophobic and transphobic discrimination”.[43]

    Transgender and intersex rights[edit]

    Discrimination against transgender and intersex people is illegal in Portugal.

    In March 2011, the President ratified the new Law of Gender Identity (Portuguese: Lei da Identidade de Género), which allows transgender persons to change their legal gender on birth certificates and other identity documents.[44][6]

    On 24 May 2016, the Left Bloc introduced a bill to allow legal gender change solely based on self-determination.[45][46][47] Similar bills were introduced by the People–Animals–Nature party and the Costa Government in November 2016 and May 2017, respectively.[48][49] They were merged into one measure by a parliamentary committee and subsequently approved by the Parliament on 13 April 2018.[50][51][52] On 9 May, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa vetoed the bill.[53][54] On 12 July, the Parliament adopted the bill with changes with regards to sex changes by minors aged 16 and 17, suggested by the President in his veto message.[55][56] This time around, the President signed the bill on 31 July.[57][58] It was published in the official journal on 7 August 2018 and took effect the following day.[59][60]

    The law allows an adult person to change their legal gender without any requirements. Minors aged 16 and 17 are able to do so with parental consent and a psychological opinion, confirming that their decision has been taken freely and without any outside pressure. The law also prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics, and bans non-consensual sex assignment treatment and/or surgical intervention on intersex children.[61] By October 2018, a total of 274 people, including 21 minors, had used the new gender recognition law to change their legal gender.[62]

    In July 2019, the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, issued recommendations for universities to amend the certificates of transgender people to properly reflect their gender identity. Similarly, that same month, Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues published regulations for primary and secondary schools to facilitate transgender and intersex students. This includes using the student’s preferred name, raising awareness, and training staff to handle discrimination cases and bullying.[63]

    Military service[edit]

    Portugal allows all citizens to serve openly in the Armed Forces regardless of sexual orientation, as the Constitution explicitly forbids any discrimination on that basis. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are therefore able to serve in the military on the same basis as heterosexual men and women.[64]

    In April 2016, Portugal’s armed forces chief General Carlos Jerónimo resigned, days after being summoned to explain comments about gay soldiers made by the deputy head of the military college. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa accepted the resignation of Jerónimo, who took up the post of chief of staff in 2014. The resignation came after António Grilo, deputy head of the military college admitted advising parents of young military students in the Portuguese army to withdraw their sons if they were gay “to protect them from the other students”. Defence Minister Azeredo Lopes considered any discrimination “absolutely unacceptable”.[65]

    Conversion therapy[edit]

    Reports from 10 January 2019 suggested that several psychologists were performing conversion therapy.[66] A few days later, a total of 250 psychologists submitted an open letter to the regulatory Ordem dos Psicólogos demanding an investigation into these pseudoscientific practices. The body affirmed that conversion therapy is malpractice and cannot be justified.[67]

    Asylum recognition[edit]

    Since 30 August 2008, sexual orientation and gender identity have been recognized as grounds to apply for asylum.[68]

    Blood donation[edit]

    In 2010, Parliament unanimously approved a Left Bloc petition to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood.[69] The motion was to finally be implemented by the Portuguese Institute of Blood and Transplantation (Instituto Português do Sangue e da Transplantação) in October 2015, and a six-month or one-year deferral period was to be enacted.[70][71] However, the motion’s implementation was delayed.[72][73] In late September 2016, the new rules came into effect and allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood after one year of abstinence from sex.[74]

    Living conditions[edit]Gay Pride in Lisbon

    Although there are several cases of public prejudice against LGBT people, there is a dynamic gay scene in Lisbon,[1] Porto, and in the main touristic cities in the Algarve region,[1] such as Faro, Lagos, Albufeira, and Tavira, with several gay bars, pubs, nightclubs, and beaches. Other smaller cities and regions such as Aveiro, Leiria, Coimbra, Braga, Évora, and Madeira have more discreet gay communities. In Lisbon, most LGBT-oriented businesses are grouped around the bohemian Bairro Alto and the adjacent Príncipe Real and Chiado neighborhoods.[75][75][76][77] In both Lisbon and Porto, there are also annual pride parades that attract thousands of participants and spectators. Lisbon is also host to one of the largest LGBT film festivals in Europe – Queer Lisboa – the Lisbon Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Some Portuguese beaches are popular among LGBT people, like 19 Beach, near Costa de Caparica, and Barril Naturist Beach (an official naturist beach) or Cacela Velha beach, both of them near Tavira.[76][78]

    Portugal is frequently referred to as one of the world’s most LGBT-friendly countries, with various groups and associations catering to LGBT people, supportive legislation, and high societal acceptance. In 1974, Portugal transitioned from an authoritarian clerical fascist dictatorship to a civilian democracy. During the dictatorship, LGBT people faced oppression at the hands of the state, as well as prejudice and rejection at the hands of society. Since the transition, however, LGBT people, as well as Portuguese people more broadly, have experienced an increased level of rights, freedom, and liberty. Over the following years, LGBT individuals began to organize politically and slowly enter the public eye, raising awareness of their cause and movement. Associação ILGA Portugal was founded in 1995, campaigning for increased legal rights for LGBT people, outlawing discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity, and changing societal perceptions. Numerous other groups were established, including Portugal Pride, AMPLOS (Associação de Mães e Pais pela Liberdade de Orientação Sexual) and Pink Panthers (Panteras Rosa),[79] along with a motorcycle group for LGBT people in Porto and an LGBT Catholic association in Lisbon. Owing to their advocacy and work, anti-discrimination laws were expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity, article 13 of the Constitution of Portugal was similarly amended to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, transgender transition laws were relaxed and civil unions were opened to same-sex couples. In 2010, Portugal legalized same-sex marriage, the eighth country worldwide to do so and the sixth in Europe, and in 2016 same-sex couples became eligible to legally adopt. In 2019, ILGA-Europe ranked Portugal 7th out of 49 European countries in relation to LGBT rights legislation. In March 2019, the country was named the world’s best LGBT-friendly travel destination, along with Canada and Sweden.[80]

    LGBT Rights in Portugal


      ✔ Legal


      ✔ Legal


      ✔ Legal, surgery not required


      ✔ Legal


      ✔ Illegal


      ✔ Sexual orientation and gender identity


      ✔ Sexual orientation and gender identity


      ✔ Legal


      ✔ Equal


      ✔ Legal


      ✖ Not banned



    Current status
    (since Sep 23, 1982)


    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since May 31, 2010)


    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Mar 15, 2011–Jul 1, 2018

    Legal, but requires surgery

    Individuals in Portugal can legally change their gender and name on their birth certificate.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No

    Current status

    Legal, surgery not required

    Changes pending. Missing non binary options on documents.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since Dec 18, 2015)


    Now same-sex adoption is possible for not only individuals but same-sex couples.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No

    Until Dec 18, 2015


    Lesbian or gay couples cannot adopt.
    A single gay or lesbian can adopt.
    Co-adoption wasn’t approved by the Parliament last March.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since Jul 24, 2004)


    Article 13 explicitly prohibits discriminations on the basis of sexual orientations

    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status

    Sexual orientation and gender identity


    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since Jan 16, 2015)

    Sexual orientation and gender identity

    Gender identity is now an explicitly protected ground in the labor code.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No

    2003–Jan 16, 2015

    Sexual orientation only

    Sexual orientation was protected.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since 1999)


    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since 2007)


    The age of consent in the portal is 14 years of age for both homosexual and heterosexual sex.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status
    (since Apr 7, 2010)


    In Portugal, blood donation has rules regarding sexual behavior but they are the same for homosexual people and heterosexuals.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No


    Current status

    Not banned

    Conversion therapy ban pending.

    Details · Accurate? Yes No

    Search Interest

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