Updated: May 3, 2024

 

In today’s globalized world, remote work opportunities and increased freedom of travel are opening doors for expats from diverse backgrounds across the globe. Traveling to a new country and choosing a new home, however, requires careful consideration, especially for individuals who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and seek a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. LGBTQ+ rights in Portugal are considered among the best in the world, having improved significantly over the years and garnering the country a reputation as one of the most tolerant countries in the world.

In this Portugal LGBT expats guide, we will take you through the Portugal LGBTQ+ community’s history, the current standing of sexual orientation and gender identity law in the country and give you a tour of the best neighborhoods for individuals to feel safe and comfortable within their sexual and gender diversity.

Over the past few years, Portugal has emerged as a top destination for LGBT expats and as a country that prioritizes the acceptance and safety of citizens and expats despite their sexual orientation. Portugal is home to inclusive communities accepting of cultural, religious, and racial diversity as well as heterosexual and cisgender youth and individuals part of diverse sexual minority populations.

But before packing your bags, it’s important to delve deeper into the intricacies of this country that celebrates the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans (LGBT) community. This guide will explore the cultural landscape, legal protections available, and the most LGBT-friendly cities in Portugal, helping you make an informed decision about your new adventure.

An Overview of LGBTQ+ Movement 

The first pride flag designed by Gilbert Baker and Lynn Segerblom was unveiled at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco in 1978. To give you an idea about what the LGBTQ+ community holds dear and stands for, each of the original seven colors of the pride flag symbolizes something, namely:

  • Red: Life 
  • Orange: Healing 
  • Yellow: Sunlight 
  • Green: Nature 
  • Turquoise: Art 
  • Indigo: Serenity 
  • Violet: Spirit 

In 2017, a new pride flag was created, which features additional black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag to include and uplift people of color LGBTQ+ communities.

In June 2010, Portugal became the eighth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Portugal now has wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws and is one of the few countries in the world to contain a ban on discrimination, and physical or sexual assault based on sexual orientation in its constitution. In the table below, we showcase the first 10 countries in the world that legalized same sex marriage, and which have since made great strides toward positively impacting the legal and social contexts and mental health outcomes of the LGBTQ+ community.

The Portugal LGBT Rights Timeline

is-portugal-a-good-place-to-live-social-cohesionIn 1974, Portugal experienced the Carnation Revolution, one of history’s most successful bloodless revolutions. The Carnation Revolution ended the country’s military dictatorship, and in the years since, Portuguese society has become more progressive and open-minded.

Today, Portugal is considered one of the top countries in the world for the protection and advancement of LGBT rights that tackle sexual diversity issues. Let’s look at some important dates in the history of Portugal’s LGBT community:

  • May 1974: A manifesto for the Liberation of sexual minorities is published in the Dario de Lisboa, resulting in the establishment of Portugal’s LGBT movement
  • 1982: Homosexuality in Portugal is decriminalized
  • 1999: The first gay pride march occurs in Lisbon. State officially recognizes same-sex unions
  • 2007: The age of consent for same-sex relationships is equalized
  • 2010: Gay marriage is legalized
  • 2016: Gay couples are legally allowed to adopt

LGBT Rights in Portugal

As we mentioned earlier, Portugal is a progressive and open-minded society. If you are a member of the LGBT and intend to relocate to Portugal, you may want to know exactly what rights and protection you are guaranteed against discrimination and negative mental health outcomes under Portuguese law, if you plan on disclosing sexual minority status.

Below, we will explore the Portugal LGBT legal and advocacy milestones that have come to pass since 2010, including, same-sex marriage legalization in 2010, the 2018 law on gender identity which allows individuals to change legal gender without medical intervention, and Portugal LGBT adoption rights.

Gay marriage in Portugal

In 1999, Portugal first recognized unions for same sex couples. In 2010, the country legalized marriage for same-sex couples. As such, same sex couples are guaranteed the same rights as heterosexual couples under Portuguese law. This includes marriage, visas, inheritance, adoption, and IVF laws.

Marriage visas for same-sex partners in Portugal

Marriage visas for heterosexual and same-sex couples in Portugal work the same. If your spouse has permanent residence in Portugal, you can apply for a two-year residence permit. You can renew this permit at the end of the two years, provided your relationship status has remained the same.

If your spouse has a temporary residence, you can join them under the family reunification law. In such a case, you must prove that you possess sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in Portugal.

If you have a same-sex partner and apply for a Portugal Golden Visa, your partner will also receive a residence permit if their documentation is submitted simultaneously.

Same-sex marriage to a Portuguese citizen

If you marry a Portuguese citizen, you can apply for residency. After three years of marriage, you will be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

Gender identity according to Portugal LGBT law

Put into place in 2018, Act No. 38/201 [65] allows an adult person to change legal gender without any requirements. Minors aged 16 and 17 can do so with parental consent and a professional psychological opinion on the child’s sexual identity to ensure that their decision is sound and not being made due to outside pressure. This law also prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and any violation on gender minority students’ rights in general.

Family rights for LGBT couples in Portugal

Thanks to the legalization of same sex marriage in 2010 and same-sex adoption in 2016, Portugal enjoys a political system that supports LGBT rights. As a result, LGBT families and heterosexual families can enjoy the same adoption rights today.

The children of same sex couples are recognized as dependents in the same way that children of heterosexual couples are. As such, these children can apply for family reunification visas and are also included as dependents under Portugal’s Golden Visa program. This means they qualify to obtain a residence permit if they are under 18 or in full-time education.

Inheritance rights for Portugal’s LGBT community

In Portugal, there is no inheritance tax for spouses or close relatives, and this applies to both heterosexual, same-sex couples and their children. This means that sexual orientation has no effect on commercial or financial relationships between LGBT Portugal families.

Adoption rights for Portugal’s LGBT couples

Portugal legalized adoption for same-sex couples in 2016, and it is also possible for same-sex partners to adopt their spouse’s children. Portugal’s adoption process is the same for both heterosexual and same sex couples but is known to be quite bureaucratic and can take three to four years to complete.

IVF for same-sex couples in Portugal

The same legislation that legalized adoption for same-sex couples also guarantees them equal access to IVF treatment. As such, any woman who is LGBT has the same rights to IVF as a cis-gendered or heterosexual woman. An important note is that surrogacy is not legal in Portugal unless under specific circumstances.

The LGBT Community in Portugal

According to the Spartacus Gay Travel Index for 2024 five countries share the top spot of being the most LGBT+ friendly, alongside Malta, Spain, Canada and New Zealand. Portugal also recently changed its laws protecting the gender identity and sexual orientation of trans and intersex people and introduced several anti-hate crime initiatives against verbal or physical abuse. Portugal is also home to influential personalities and activists such as António Serzedelo, a Portuguese human rights and LGBT activist, and Isabel Moreira, a politician and advocate for LGBT rights.

Is Portugal LGBT friendly?

Portugal-LGBT-expats-rightsAs an individual of a different sexual orientation or gender identity, you may have concerns about experiencing discrimination and homophobia. In certain sectors of Portuguese society, particularly the more rural sectors, there is still some discrimination against the LGBT community. However, Portugal’s government has spent recent years actively working to protect the rights of LGBT residents and make the country a more hospitable host of the LGBT community.

In Portugal, LGBT friendly businesses are easy to find. These include hotels, bars, and cafes known for being welcoming to sexual minority youth. You can even find guides specializing in LGBT friendly tours in Portugal.

Popular Portugal LGBT locations and landmarks include the neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and Príncipe Real, which are Lisbon’s gay-friendly touristic hotspots popular for their nightlife, including LGBT-friendly bars and clubs.

The Portuguese government also offers social and legal resources, including the Comissão para a Cidadania e a Igualdade de Género (CIG) which is a government body responsible for promoting gender equality and fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

LGBTQ+ expats in Portugal also have access to health and support services like CheckpointLX, which is a Lisbon-based sexual health center for the LGBT, and the Transexual Portugal Support Network, which offers support and resources for transgender individuals. There are also a number of online communities and resources available, such as the PortugalGay.pt website that features resources and directories for the LGBT community in Portugal, as well as several Portugal LGBT online forums and social media groups.

Portugal for sexual minority youths

Portugal offers a world class education system and a number of international schools where expats can find a safe space for their children who are part of the LGBTQ+ community to learn in an environment created for positive and healthy development. You will be able to find private and public schools offering inclusive school programs, school support groups promoting awareness raising activities, and schools that implement mandatory teacher training in inclusive student and school ethics. Portugal LGBT high school students and older students will also have access to schools and tertiary institutions with a student organization offering sexuality related social support, as well as social and parental support to fight homophobic and transphobic bullying.

Portugal LGBT Friendly Places to Live 

Larger cities like Lisbon and Porto tend to be more LGBT-friendly than Portugal’s smaller, more rural areas. The Algarve region is also very friendly towards the LGBT community. So, let’s look at some places in Portugal that are LGBT-friendly.

Principe Real

One of Lisbon’s charming and historic neighborhoods, Principe Real, is the starting point for the capital city’s Pride parades. It is known as Lisbon’s most prominent gay neighborhood and has a thriving gay scene. Any Lisboeta would recommend the neighborhood as a must-see place for LGBT visitors.

Located near the heart of Lisbon, this neighborhood contains the most famous gay bars in Lisbon. Unsurprisingly it has a thriving nightlife, as well as a range of restaurants, a lovely park, and many traditional houses with stunning views over the Tragus River.

Bairro Alto

Bairro Alto is popular among the LGBT community in Lisbon. The vibrant night life and entertainment scene in the suburb tends to attract a younger crowd, and it has a good number of gay bars. The neighborhood also has narrow streets that fill with party-goers looking to hit the clubs over the weekends.

Arroios

Arroios is known for being very LGBT-friendly and is popular among younger members of the LGBT community. The area has a few LGBT-friendly cultural centers, including entertainment attractions like Casa Independente, a terrace with outdoor seating that serves cocktails and live music performances.

Cascais

Cascais is a popular destination among expats. It has several beautiful beaches and is also located near Lisbon, providing all the convenience of a capital city in addition to a calmer, more tranquil lifestyle. Cascais has a host of gay-friendly bars, fantastic restaurants, and a thriving art scene.

For more insight into Portugal LGBT friendly hotspots, you can explore our guide to the best gay areas in Lisbon and discover more about these areas in the Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon guide.

Take a look at our essential guide for expats living in Portugal

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Real Estate Rental Costs

When moving to Portugal, you will likely wonder what real estate prices are like. Portugal’s real estate market is thriving, and property prices have steadily increased. In popular neighborhoods of Lisbon, property prices tend to be more expensive.

However, it is possible to find properties to rent at an affordable price in Lisbon. Property prices in the city center are higher than outside the center, so it makes more sense to look there for reasonably priced rental options.

For example, the average price of a one-bedroom apartment for rent in Lisbon’s city center is €1,299.38 per month, whereas, outside the city center, it is €910.67. In Cascais, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost around €1,400 each month, while outside the city center it will cost about €925 per month. The rent you pay will be determined by your chosen area and the type of property you rent.

Costs of Buying Real Estate in Portugal

As you now know, Principe Real in Lisbon’s suburb of Santo António is the most popular neighborhood for members of the LGBT community. It makes sense that real estate prices in the area have risen over the years. You can expect to pay anywhere from €8,117 per square meter to purchase a property, while rent will cost anywhere upwards of €910 per month.

In Arroios, you can expect to pay an average of €900 each month to rent a 50-square-meter apartment and if you are interested in buying property, you can expect to pay around €5,885 per square meter. Nearby, in the historic Lisbon neighborhood of Santa Maria Maior, the average price of property is €6,700 per square meter. The cost of property will vary depending on your proximity to the city center, the neighborhood, and the property type. You can learn more about the costs of purchasing real estate in our article on Portugal Real Estate.

Portugal LGBT Expats Buying Property: A Step-by-Step Guide

In the table below, we guide you through the essential steps and legal intricacies involved in buying property in Portugal- from finding and financing your ideal investment property, negotiation and reservation, the promissory contract, and finalizing the deed signing.

Step

Description

Step 1: Secure financing for your property

Assess your finances, explore mortgage options from Portuguese banks, and understand associated costs such as taxes, legal fees, and property registration expenses.

Step 2: Find the perfect property

Set a budget and research the Portuguese real estate market, focusing on location, amenities, and rental potential. Seek guidance from real estate professionals like buyer's agents or real estate agents.

Step 3: Make an offer

Once you find a suitable property, negotiate an offer with the seller, potentially facilitated by a real estate professional. Consider having a buyer's agent representing your best interests during negotiations.

Step 4: Reservation Agreement and CPCV

After an offer is accepted, a Reservation Agreement may require a refundable fee. The Promissory Contract (CPCV) finalizes the deal, often with a 10 percent deposit, signed in front of a Notary.

Step 5: Signing the Escritura

The Escritura, or Final Deed, officially transfers property ownership. Signed before a Notary, it involves paying remaining balances and fees. After signing, the buyer becomes the official owner, concluding the process.

Requirements for a Successful Property Purchase

An essential part of the process when buying real estate in Portugal is applying for a Portuguese NIF number and opening a bank account. These two requirements will also come in handy for any other transactions you need to complete in the country, especially for investors who are non-EU citizens.

Portuguese tax number

You will need a NIF, the Portuguese tax number, to conduct any major financial transactions and you will also need one to open a bank account in Portugal. You can apply for the NIF number yourself at your local tax office or get an attorney to assist you. If you are a non-EU citizen, you will need to have a fiscal representative. To avoid having to go to the local tax office, you can also apply for your NIF number online.

Portuguese bank account

It is recommended that you open a Portuguese bank account to avoid hefty international transaction fees when making your purchase. There are a variety of Portuguese banks to consider, many of which offer mortgages to foreign buyers as well.

Frequently Asked Questions about Portugal LGBT Expats

Portugal is safe for LGBT people. According to the Spartacus Gay Travel Index for 2024, Portugal is one of five countries sharing the top spot of being the most LGBT+ friendly.

Portugal’s laws offer LGBT people the same rights, privileges, and protection as heterosexual people. While the more rural areas of Portugal may be less welcoming to LGBT members, most cities openly welcome and celebrate the LGBT community.

Portugal can be a good place for LGBT people to retire. Portugal offers tax benefits to retirees, and many locations in the country are extremely popular among expat retirees. A number of Portuguese cities are very welcoming to LGBT members, and the country’s laws offer the community the same rights, privileges, and protection as heterosexual people.