Life in Portugal as a LGBT person

Portugal is known for its relaxed laws and attitude towards LGBT people, especially in recent years. It could be the perfect destination if you identify as a member of the community and want to experience this great country comfortably.  

In this article we delve into the extent of LGBT safety and culture in Portugal, with recommendations and advice, so that you can get an idea of what living here or visiting could look like.

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Is Portugal a LGBT-friendly country?

Technically, yes. Portugal decriminalised homosexuality in 1982 and became just the 8th European country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010. In 2016 adoption by same-sex couples was approved, as well.

In 2018 a bill for the self-determination of gender (Lei da Autodeterminação de Género) was also passed, which allows for transgender people to freely change the gender on their government documentation without medical approvement, which was needed before. 

Although legally Portugal is very advanced and by every aspect of the law, LGBT people have equal rights and are protected, you can still be discriminated against, especially in more rural areas. Which brings us to the topic of the best places for LGBT people to stay or even live. 

The most LGBT welcoming places

Lisbon

The country capital has become a beautiful haven for LGBT culture and community spirit. Everywhere through the city you’ll find a lot of specific gay bars and clubs and generally all spots are LGBT-friendly. The most popular neighbourhoods and areas are Bairro Alto, Príncipe Real, Ribeira das Naus and Arroios. Some prominent spots are Trumps, Purex, Posh, Lux Frágil and Titanic Sur Mer. Lisbon also hosts a big pride parade every year in June. 

It has been announced that Lisbon will be the host city of EuroPride 2025 – one of the biggest events in Europe celebrating the LGBT community -, as well. 

Porto

While not as big or as queer-friendly as Lisbon, Porto still has a prevalent and growing LGBT scene. Bonfim, Cedofeita and Batalha are the safest areas to live or stay in. Maus Hábitos, Zoom, Passos Manuel and small street bars like Taskinha are some popular spots for the community. 

Other bigger cities like Coimbra, Braga and Faro also have prevailing LGBT scenes but it’s advisable to be more cautious if you plan on visiting these cities or even less prominent areas in Lisbon and Porto. Always be careful and aware of your surroundings. 

What to be aware of

While the LGBT community in Portugal has come a long way in recent years, there’s still work to be done. Some known issues you could come across are, for example, the long waiting time for gender-affirming surgery in the Public Health System (SNS) and the great cost of it in the private health sector (between 15 to 25,000 euros). ‘Nonbinary’ is not yet a valid legal identity, also. 

As previously stated before, the big cities are welcoming but even then you should be careful. A rather large percentage of the Portuguese people are still close-minded and even homophobic and transphobic, unfortunately.

Pride Parade in Lisbon, 2022. ©Inês Leote
Popular LGBT club Zoom, in Porto.

Golden Visa for Gay Couples

Legalizing same-sex marriage in Portugal has paved the way for LGBT couples to participate fully in society. One of the most welcome developments that have resulted from this change is the ability for gay partners to apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa program, just like their heterosexual counterparts.

The Golden Visa program is a fast and easy way for individuals and families to obtain residency rights in Portugal. To qualify, applicants must invest in real estate or other qualifying assets. They must also demonstrate that they can financially support themselves without relying on public assistance.

For gay couples, taking advantage of this program means a high level of security and stability. It also gives these couples access to many benefits of permanent residency, including more job opportunities and greater freedom to travel within Europe and worldwide. 

Overall, Portugal’s Golden Visa program is helping to give gay couples equal footing with heterosexual couples, providing them with important legal protections and economic opportunities that open doors for personal growth and happiness.

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