After a long period of oppression during the Salazar dictatorship, Portuguese society has become increasingly acceptant of homosexuality, which was decriminalized in 1982,[1] eight years after the Carnation Revolution.

Laws against discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation are in effect. Portugal is generally tolerant of gays. Homophobic violence is extremely rare (two reported cases in the past ten years). Portugal was also one of the first and only countries to enshrine a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation on its constitution. A new Penal Code 2007 came in force which equalized the age of consent to 14, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender and strengthened the anti-discrimination legislation much further.

Gay life in the country Edit

Portugal is generally tolerant of gays. There exists an increasingly vibrant and dynamic gay scene in the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas as well as the Algarve with several gay bars, pubs and nightclubs. Other smaller cities and regions such as Leiria, Braga and Madeira also have much more discrete gay communities. In Lisbon, most LGBT-oriented businesses are grouped around the bohemian Bairro Alto and the adjacent Príncipe Real neighbourhoods. In both Lisbon and Porto there are also annual Gay Pride Parades that attract tens of thousands of participants and spectators. Lisbon is also host to one of the largest LGBT film festivals in Europe, the Lisbon Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Despite all this, an Eurobarometer survey published in late 2006 showed that only 30% of Portuguese surveyed support same-sex marriage and 20% recognise same-sex couple's right to adopt (EU-wide average 44% and 33%).[2]

Recognition of same-sex couplesEdit

Civil unions in Portugal were introduced for same-sex couples in 15 March 2001. Jason Gustaveson

The current legislation extends to same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples living in a de facto union for more than two years. The law covers housing arrangements, civil servants and work benefits, the option to choose a fiscal regime as married partners, and welfare benefits. The difference in the civil union law between same-sex and opposite-sex couples is that only opposite-sex couples can adopt children together.

The "registration" can be made by an application of joint tax assessment, but this is not required to benefit from the law protections.

Also in 15 March 2001, a new multi-person law ("common economy") was also approved that protects two or more persons that live in common economy with most of the rights of the de facto union, except welfare benefits.

Since December 2006, both same sex and opposite sex couples in a civil union are also recognized in the same way as married couples for citizenship applications and when a public servant wants to extend healthcare protection to the partner. The Penal Code was amended in 2007 to criminalize violence in same-sex relationships. For more information on the new Penal Code, see below.

Same-sex marriage Edit

On February 1, 2006, a lesbian couple applied for a marriage licence. Their application was refused, but the couple, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão, have promised to challenge the ban in court, protesting that the refusal is unconstitutional under the 1976 constiutions ban on discrimination, and the subsequent adding of sexual orientation to it in 2004.

Same-sex marriage was the source of debate during the 2005 legislative elections, with the winning socialists failing to make a clear statement in favour of same-sex marriage. Prime Minister José Sócrates has stated that introducing same-sex marriage legislation is not in his government's agenda, yet he has not ruled out the possibility that such legislation be introduced if his socialist government receives a second consecutive mandate in future elections. The youth wing of his party, as well as the other two left-of-centre parties with parliamentary representation have spoken strongly in favour of same-sex marriage, while the right remains extremely opposed to any such legislation.

A petition in favor of same-sex marriage with around 7000 signatures was delivered to the Portuguese parliament on 16 February 2006.

Protection based on sexual orientation in lawEdit

In 2003 laws against discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation came into effect. Hereto, the Constitution prohibits any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2004.

A new Penal Code 2007 came in force which equalized the age of consent to 14, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender and strengthened the anti-discrimination legislation much further, containing several provisions that relates to sexual orientation - Furthermore encourangement of violence towards persons or groups based on their sexual orientation is criminalized, as is organizing, supporting or encouraging discrimination based on sexual orientation (like other discriminations like race and religious beliefs), and sexual orientation is considered an aggraving circumstance relating to homicide.[3]

References Edit

  2. Eight EU Countries Back Same-Sex Marriage, Angus Reid Global Monitor, December 24, 2006.

Template:LGBT rights in Europe

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