Updated: February 21, 2024
Portugal is a country that celebrates LGBT rights. In fact, LGBT rights in Portugal are considered among the best in the world, having improved significantly over the years. Our Portugal LGBT expats guide will take you through the LGBT community’s history in Portugal, how LGBT rights stand in the country today, and what makes Portugal so LGBT-friendly.
The History of LGBT Rights in Portugal
1974 saw Portugal experience 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. Let’s take a 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; the 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 community and intend to relocate to Portugal, you may want to know exactly what rights you are guaranteed under Portuguese law.
Gay marriage in Portugal
In 1999, Portugal first recognized unions for gay couples. In 2010, the country legalized marriage for same-sex couples. As such, gay 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. Note that if you are interested in the Portugal Golden Visa, you should apply now as the program is coming to an end.
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.
Family rights for LGBT couples in Portugal
Thanks to the legalization of gay marriage in 2010 and same-sex adoption in 2016, Portugal enjoys a political system that supports LGBT rights. As a result, gay families and heterosexual families can enjoy the same adoption rights today.
The children of gay 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. This applies to both heterosexual and same-sex couples and their children.
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 gay couples but is known to be quite bureaucratic and can take three to four years to complete. There are also yet to be any officially recognized cases of adoption by same-sex couples in the country.
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
Portugal is one of the top destinations in the world for LGBT travelers, along with Canada and Sweden. Portugal also recently changed its laws regarding the protection of trans and intersex people and introduced a number of anti-hate crime initiatives, moving it to the top spot in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index.
Is Portugal LGBT-friendly?
As an LGBT traveler, 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.
So, let’s look at some places in Portugal that are LGBT-friendly.
LGBT-friendly places to live in Portugal
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.
Best gay neighborhoods in Lisbon
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-visit place for LGBT travelers.
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.
A relatively young neighborhood at heart, Bairro Alto is popular among the LGBT community in Lisbon. 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.
Back in 2019, TimeOut magazine described Arroios as the coolest neighborhood in Lisbon. 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 Casa Independente.
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.
Head to our article to read more about the Best Gay Areas in Lisbon.
Check out our guide to the Best Neighborhoods in Lisbon for more information.
Real estate rent prices
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 center is €1,225.29 per month, whereas, outside the center, it is €780.50. In Cascais, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost around €1,011.11 each month; outside the city center, it will cost €729.25. Of course, the rent you pay will be determined by your chosen area and the type of property you rent.
Real estate in Portugal
Portugal’s real estate market can take a lot of work for foreigners to navigate. You need to be aware of the different property and tax laws, what you require as a foreigner, etc. Furthermore, property prices in Portugal, particularly Lisbon, have steadily increased over the years thanks to its growing tourism sector and strong economy.
The great demand for housing and limited supply means that Portugal’s real estate market is competitive. As such, knowing what you are looking for and your budget is essential before jumping into the property search process.
Price of real estate in Portugal
As you now know, Principe Real is Lisbon’s 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 between €6,500 and €9000 per square meter to purchase a property, while rent will cost anywhere upwards of €850 per month.
In Arroios, you can expect to pay an average of €900 each month to rent a 50-square-meter apartment. Bairro Alto, an up-and-coming neighborhood, is quickly gaining popularity. Renting an apartment here can cost between €800 and €1,000 each month. These figures are based on the information available on Idealista.
Of course, the cost of rent will vary depending on your proximity to the city center, the neighborhood, and the property type. Check out our article on Portugal Real Estate to learn more.
The property buying process in Portugal
Purchasing property in Portugal can feel daunting. Our step-by-step guide below will help put you at ease about what to expect from the property-buying process in Portugal.
- Be prepared
Know what you are looking for before you start the process of searching for a property. This includes the property type, the area, and your budget. You should also consider the current conditions of the real estate market and whether it is a suitable time for you to buy a property.
- Choose your location
Once you know the type of area you want, you’ll be able to determine the exact location to search for properties for sale. Your budget will influence your location, so it’s important to know how much you are willing to spend from the start.
Portugal’s real estate market offers a great variety in terms of property type and price. Each region and neighborhood will have its own pros and cons, so it’s important to do your research before buying. It can be beneficial to rent a property in an area before committing to purchase one, as it will allow you to experience what it’s really like and whether it’s what you want.
- Define the property type
Are you looking for an apartment, a house, a villa, or a flat? Do you need to be close to an international airport or school? What is the maximum amount you are willing to spend? What type of amenities are you looking for?
These are all important points to consider prior to beginning your search.
- Your search strategy
There are a number of ways to search for properties for sale in Portugal. You can go the traditional route and use an estate agent or a buyer’s agent. You could also visit different real estate websites and portals, such as Casa Sapo, IMO, Rightmove, and Remax.
Facebook is another great resource for finding properties listed for sale, particularly on real estate groups and Facebook Marketplace.
- Bidding and purchasing
Once you find your perfect property, you can make an offer to purchase. To do this, it is essential to find an independent real estate lawyer who can look through the terms of the contract, arrange the necessary checks and surveys on the property, and ensure everything is in order.
You will sign a promissory contract and make a deposit for the property. This will require you to have a Portuguese bank account and NIF number. You will then arrange a date to complete your purchase. Finally, you and the seller will meet in front of a notary to sign the final contract of sale. You will need to pay the amount remaining and will receive the keys to your new property.
- Making the payment
You can choose to finance your property by getting a mortgage, either in your home country or in Portugal. If you choose to get a Portuguese mortgage, you will need to put down a 30 percent deposit if you are a non-resident and 20 percent if you are a Portuguese resident. Your loan period will depend on your residency status.
Before choosing your mortgage, you should compare different banks and lenders to ensure you get the best deal possible for you. Once you have chosen your lender, you must gather and present all the necessary documentation to make your application.
Many lenders will require you to take out life insurance to make your application. Your lender will review your application, evaluate your property, and determine the loan-to-value ratio.
Once your loan has been approved and your purchase has gone through, you are officially a new homeowner!
To learn more, head to our article on Portugal Real Estate Investment.
Buyer’s agent in Portugal
If you’re interested in purchasing real estate in Portugal, contact Goldcrest. Goldcrest is a local buyer’s agent situated in Portugal. We work for you, the client, and provide insightful real estate expertise and strategic advice. From sourcing to property acquisition, we help clients identify outstanding investment opportunities in some of Portugal’s finest locations.
Whether you’re a family looking to relocate or invest in land for redevelopment, our team of experts can help you find the right property without the hassle or fuss. Contact us to get the ball rolling on your Portuguese real estate investment.
LGBT Expats in Portugal
As an LGBT expat in Portugal, you may be curious about the different visa routes and how tax in Portugal works. The sections below will explore the different routes available under Portugal’s Golden Visa program and touch on the tax schemes you may benefit from.
Golden Visa for gay couples in Portugal
Portugal’s Golden Visa program is a five-year citizenship-by-investment scheme that allows non-EU citizens to invest in the country to obtain citizenship. After maintaining the investment for five years, you can apply for citizenship. The program also allows investors to obtain residence permits for their spouses and dependents.
The program offers many investment routes, such as the Golden Visa investment fund option and the cultural production Golden Visa option, and is available to same-sex couples with all the same rights and privileges.
The various routes for investment include:
- Making a €500,000 investment in real estate (or €350,000 for a rehabilitation project; an additional 20 percent discount applies if located in a low-density area)
- Making a €500,000 investment in a Portuguese fund
- Making €350,000 investment in the renovation of a property
- Making a €1.5 million capital transfer into Portugal
- Creating ten jobs in Portugal
- Making a €500,000 capital transfer to increase shares of a company and creating five jobs
- Making a €250,000 donation to arts/national heritage/culture
- Making a €500,000 investment in scientific and technological research
As we mentioned, the Golden Visa is ending soon, so it’s essential to begin your application now.
Tax for LGBT expats in Portugal
Portugal offers a number of tax benefits. If you have not been a Portuguese tax resident for the past five years, you can benefit from the country’s Non-Habitual Resident Tax Regime. The scheme gives residents good tax benefits in an effort to encourage investment in Portugal.
Frequently Asked Questions about Portugal LGBT Expats
1. Is Portugal safe for LGBT people?
Yes, Portugal is safe for LGBT people. The country is one of the top destinations in the world for LGBT travelers, along with Canada and Sweden, and has taken great steps to make the country welcoming to the LGBT community.
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, many cities openly welcome and celebrate the LGBT community.
2. Is Portugal a good place to retire for LGBT people?
Yes, 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.