If you’re someone who identifies as a member of the LGBT community (lesbian gay bisexual trans), and you’re considering moving abroad, Portugal could be a good place to relocate to. Over the years, Portugal has made significant advances concerning sexual orientation and gender identity, and become one of the most tolerant countries in the world for LGBT people.

Before you make that decision, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of the local cultural perspective toward the LGBT community, the legal protections and rights you are granted, as well as which locales offer the most inclusive environments. This comprehensive guide delves into these topics, offering a clear picture of the LGBT experience in Portugal.

Read on to discover:

  • Portugal LGBT rights
  • The LGBT scene in Portugal
  • The most LGBT-friendly places in Portugal

Historical Overview of LGBT Rights in Portugal

LGBT rights in Portugal improved significantly in the 21st century, and the country is now considered a pioneer in Western Europe for its tolerance. Although anti LGBT bullying still exists in Portugal, the country is known as one of the most tolerant in the world, and Portuguese people are increasingly open toward sexual preference and gender identity, and there are many policies supporting LGBT rights.

In the wake of the Carnation Revolution in 1974, a peaceful coup that toppled the military dictatorship, Portugal shifted dramatically toward a more progressive and open-minded society. Today, it stands tall among the global leaders advocating for and protecting LGBT rights.

The Portuguese LGBT movement publicized its campaign after the Carnation Revolution in May 1974, with the publication of a manifesto advocating for the “liberation of sexual minorities” in the Diário de Lisboa. It took until 1982 for homosexuality to be decriminalized, and it wasn’t until 1999 that the first Pride March was held in Lisbon. That year, Portugal officially recognized same-sex unions.

In 2003, Portugal’s crime laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment came into effect involving three particular measures: access to work and employment, protection against discrimination in work, and sexual harassment. The next year, the Constitution of Portugal banned any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, making Portugal one of the only countries in the world to prohibit discrimination of this kind in its Constitution.

In 2007, the age of consent for same-sex relationships was equalized in Portugal, and since 30 August 2008, sexual orientation and gender identity have been recognized as grounds to apply for asylum in the country.

Article 2 of Law 60/2009 of 6 August 2009 was implemented in 2009, establishing the rules for sex education in schools and forbidding any discriminatory behavior on the grounds of sexual orientation or any violence on the grounds of gender or sexual preference.

Later on, in 2010, Portugal legalized same-sex marriages, ensuring equal marriage rights for all.

In 2011,  a gender identity law was passed. The law enables the recognition of gender identity without the need for surgery beforehand and to expedite the processes for changing one’s name and gender.

In 2013, the Portuguese Parliament approved a law that incorporated gender identity into the hate crimes provision of the Penal Code.

In 2015, the Portuguese Parliament unanimously approved a measure to formally adopt 17 May as the National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

By 2016, Portuguese law was amended to allow same-sex adoption, further consolidating the legal rights of the LGBT community in Portuguese society.

The LGBT Community in Portugal

How LGBT-friendly is Portugal?

Portugal is frequently referred to as one of the most LGBT friendly countries in the world. LGBT expatriates contemplating travel or relocation to Portugal can expect a welcoming and inclusive environment, as the local populace is renowned for their warmth and acceptance.

Portugal secured a joint fourth-place ranking in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2023 among global destinations. This significant advancement in recent years is largely attributed to progressive legal protections extended to trans and intersex people and proactive anti-hate crime initiatives.

A testament to Portugal’s inclusivity, specifically in the capital city of Lisbon, can be seen in an experiment conducted by Portuguese bloggers Lorenzo and Pedro. Echoing a global viral experiment, the pair walked hand-in-hand through the streets of Lisbon. Their experience was completely free of homophobic backlash, demonstrating the city’s respectful and accepting atmosphere toward the LGBT community.

This palpable sense of acceptance and inclusivity prevalent in Portugal makes it an appealing destination for LGBT individuals seeking new experiences or looking to call a new place home. The country’s impressive ranking in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index and the visible positivity toward the LGBT community make Portugal attractive for both travel and relocation.

Understanding Your LGBT Rights in Portugal

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community contemplating a move to Portugal, it’s important to understand the full spectrum of rights you’ll have under Portuguese law.

Gay marriage rights in Portugal

In Portugal, same-sex unions were acknowledged by the state in 1999, and same-sex marriages were legalized in 2010. Portuguese marriage laws accord the same rights and protections to gay couples and queer couples as to heterosexual ones. This equality extends to all areas, including visa issues, inheritance, and other legal matters.

Residency and visas for same sex couples in Portugal

Marriage visas in Portugal extend the same benefits to gay couples as to heterosexual couples. If your Portuguese spouse has permanent residency, you can apply for a two-year residency permit, which can be renewed if your marital status remains unchanged at the end of that period.

Even if your partner has only a temporary residence permit, you can still join them under the family reunification provision. However, you would need to demonstrate sufficient funds for self-support.

If you’re considering the Golden Visa in Portugal and have a same-sex partner, they, too, can receive a residence permit if their documentation is submitted concurrently with yours. However, it’s worth noting that the Portuguese Golden Visa program has undergone significant change. For more information on this topic, please refer to our detailed article on the Golden Visa program.

Citizenship through marriage to a Portuguese citizen

Marrying a Portuguese citizen doesn’t automatically grant you citizenship. You would first need to apply for residency, and after three years of marriage, you would be eligible to apply for citizenship.

In essence, Portugal is a bastion of LGBTQ+ rights and offers a conducive environment for members of the LGBTQ+ community. As with any move, understanding the local culture, legal framework, and best locales is key to a successful transition.

Right to change legal gender in Portugal

In March 2011, resident Aníbal Cavaco Silva ratified the new Law of Gender Identity, allowing trans people to change their given names and gender in the birth register in Portugal. Later on, in May 2016, the government introduced a bill to allow legal gender change solely based on self-determination. The law (Act No. 38/2018) 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.

Aside from the right to change legal gender, the law bans both direct and indirect discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics, as well as non-consensual sex assignment treatment.

Blood donation

In 2010, Parliament unanimously approved a petition to allow gay men and bisexual men to donate blood. Years later, in March 2021, the Portuguese Institute of Blood and Transplantation published new guidelines removing barriers to men who engage in same sex sexual activity from donating blood.

Since December 2021, discrimination based on sexual preference, sexual identity, and gender expression is not allowed, and the rules for donating blood are the same for homosexual and heterosexual people.

Take a look at our Portugal Citizenship Guide for 2024: All you need to know

Click here Arrow Icon

Family rights for LGBTQ+ couples in Portugal

With the significant strides in Portuguese legislation, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption, LGBT families enjoy comprehensive rights equal to those of heterosexual families. This has been facilitated by a political landscape that champions LGBT rights.

In Portugal, children of LGBT couples are fully recognized as dependents, equivalent to those of heterosexual couples. This status allows them to apply for family reunification visas and to be included as dependents under the Portugal Golden Visa program. Furthermore, these children can obtain a residence permit, provided they are under 18 or currently engaged in full-time education.

Inheritance rights for the LGBTQ+ community in Portugal

Portugal exhibits an inclusive approach toward inheritance law. There is no inheritance tax for spouses or close relatives in the country. This means same-sex couples and their children are exempt from inheritance tax, reflecting the same privilege granted to heterosexual families.

Adoption rights for LGBTQ+ couples in Portugal

Portugal made a monumental step in enhancing LGBT family rights when it legalized adoption for same-sex couples in 2016. In addition, the country also legally allows same-sex partners to adopt their spouses’ biological or adopted children, further promoting family unity and inclusivity.

IVF access for same-sex couples in Portugal

In a simultaneous enactment with the legislation legalizing adoption for same-sex couples, Portugal also extended equal access to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments to these couples. Consequently, women in same-sex relationships have the same rights to IVF procedures as heterosexual women, signifying the country’s commitment to reproductive justice.

LGBTQ+ Life in Portugal

Celebrating pride in Lisbon and Porto

Arraial Lisboa Pride, Lisbon’s official Pride celebration, is a vibrant two-day event held in late June. Arraial Lisboa Pride starts with a colorful pride march and lively street festivals and parties. Its counterpart, Pride in Porto, although relatively smaller in scale, still offers a wonderful opportunity for the community to unite in a spirited celebration of LGBTQ+ culture and pride. Typically held in the first week of July, the timing allows visitors to attend both gay pride marches consecutively during a summer visit to Portugal.

Lisboa and Porto queer film festivals

Queer Lisboa and Queer Porto are twin film festivals focusing on international LGBTQ+ cinema. These festivals aim to promote and celebrate movies that explore LGBTQ+ themes or highlight subjects related to gender, identities, and the queer experience in their narrative or aesthetics. These cinematic events take place annually, providing a creative platform for engaging dialogue each year in September and October.

LGBTQ+ Organizations in Portugal

Gay pride Portugal, pride parade Portugal, LGBT community PortugalThe following notable organizations are actively championing the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in Portugal. Whether you’re looking to offer your services as a volunteer or contribute through financial donations, these groups provide an excellent opportunity to get involved.

ILGA Portugal: Established in 1997, ILGA Portugal is the largest organization dedicated to advocating for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in the country. ILGA offers various cultural and political activities and provides essential free services for the LGBTQ+ community, such as legal advice and psychological counseling.

Clube Safo: Founded in Aveiro in 1996, Clube Safo is a community-focused lesbian organization committed to championing the rights of lesbian women. The group organizes cultural events, formulates political proposals, and encourages dialogue among lesbian women from diverse backgrounds.

Opus Diversidades (previously Opus Gay): Opus Diversidades is a non-profit organization that fervently defends LGBTQ+ rights. They’re involved in establishing a shelter for unhoused queer individuals in Portugal. While their initial focus was primarily on LGBTQ+ rights, they’ve expanded their scope to include support for migrants and women, working to counter anti-immigration and sexist policies. Opus Diversidades also offers free therapy to the LGBTQ+ community and seeks to collaborate with other associations to develop policies that safeguard biodiversity and the environment.

Transmissão: Transmissão is a collective of trans and non-binary individuals committed to defending their rights and affirming their identity. They actively oppose the policing of their gender identities and expressions, advocating for the freedom of all trans and non-binary individuals in Portugal. As part of the organizing committee for the Pride March, the group also hosts various activities in Almada, including a “Wardrobe Discovery” event, providing a safe space for individuals to explore different clothing styles.

Casa T Lisboa: Casa T Lisboa is the first shelter in Portugal established by trans people to support trans immigrants in Portugal. It was founded in Lisbon during the peak of the pandemic, a time when job and housing discrimination against transgender people was exacerbated. The shelter became a haven for many trans people in Portugal facing eviction due to their inability to cover rent. Relying solely on donations for operations rather than government funding, Casa T Lisboa continues to require urgent funds to provide its vital services.

The Best Places to Live in Portugal as an LGBT person

Lisbon and Porto are Portugal’s major urban centers, each with its unique charm and welcoming atmosphere. The Algarve region, known for its beautiful beaches, also has cities that embrace diversity, offering inclusive spaces for the LGBT community. 

As with any destination, personal experiences can vary, and it’s advisable to explore each city to find the atmosphere that best suits individual preferences and lifestyles.

Below is a round-up of the top places for an LGBTQ person to live in Portugal:


Lisbon is often praised for its open-minded and tolerant atmosphere. Portugal’s capital city has a diverse and vibrant community and several LGBT-friendly neighborhoods, where you can find gay bars.

The Bairro Alto district is particularly famous for its nightlife, including LGBT-friendly bars and clubs. It’s a popular destination for both locals and visitors, fostering an inclusive environment.


Like Lisbon, Porto is generally inclusive and open-minded. While it may not have as many explicitly LGBT-focused venues, the city is known for its friendly atmosphere and diverse community.


The Algarve region, known for its stunning coastline and tourist destinations, is generally welcoming. Cities like Lagos and Albufeira have diverse crowds, including LGBT travelers and residents.

Lagos is a coastal town with a relaxed atmosphere. While not known for its prominent LGBT scene, it attracts a diverse crowd, and there are inclusive spaces.

Albufeira, a popular tourist destination, has a lively nightlife scene. While it caters to a broad audience, including families and tourists, it has been recognized as inclusive and accepting.

Top LGBT-Friendly Neighborhoods in Lisbon

principe real lisbon neighborhoodPrincipe Real: Famed as Lisbon’s primary gay neighborhood, Principe Real has a vibrant gay scene. As major area for gay culture in the city, the neighborhood serves as the starting point for the city’s Pride parades, embodying the spirit of LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Nestled in the heart of Lisbon, Principe Real offers a blend of natural beauty and urban charm. Here, you can find exquisite parks, high-quality restaurants, traditional homes with stunning views of the Tagus River, and a dynamic nightlife scene, including some of the most renowned gay bars in Lisbon, such as Trumps.

Bairro Alto: Adjacent to Principe Real is Bairro Alto, another district beloved by LGBTQ+ expats. Bairro Alto stands out with its bustling gay scene, narrow, lively streets frequented by party-goers on weekends, and a host of gay-friendly bars and drag nights in establishments like Manny’s Place. There are also several gay saunas in this neighborhood.

Arroios: Declared one of the “coolest neighborhoods” globally by Timeout magazine, Arroios has earned a reputation for being LGBTQ+-friendly. The neighborhood tends to attract younger members of the LGBTQ+ community and houses several queer-friendly cultural centers.

Cascais: Located near the capital and surrounded by beautiful beaches, Cascais is a favorite amongst expats. This resort town offers a tranquil lifestyle, top-tier restaurants, an active art scene, and several gay-friendly bars.

Take a look at our How to Buy Property in Portugal Ultimate Guide by local experts

click here Arrow Icon

LGBT Expats in Portugal

Golden Visa for same-sex couples in Portugal

The Portugal Golden Visa program is an attractive residency-by-investment initiative designed to entice overseas investors. The program extends the opportunity for investors to apply for a Portuguese passport and citizenship after five years of sustained investment, and it’s equally available to same-sex couples, offering the same benefits and privileges.

A standout feature of the Golden Visa program is its flexibility. Investors aren’t required to relocate to Portugal to reap its benefits. The minimal “stay requirement” is  seven days per year, which means you can continue residing in your home country while on the path to acquiring Portuguese citizenship after five years.

If you are looking for another visa program allowing you to live and work in Portugal, we have plenty of information about pathways to doing so.

If you’re looking for a comfortable country to retire in, it might be helpful to know about the D7 retirement visa, which allows individuals who have sufficient funds to stay in Portugal to obtain residency.

For those working or looking to work, there is also the D2 Entrepreneurship Visa, the D3 Highly Skilled Visa, and the D8 Digital Nomad Visa. If you need any further information, do not hesitate to contact us.

Healthcare for LGBT expats in Portugal

Portugal has a high-quality private and public healthcare system.

Frequently Asked Questions about LGBT Life in Portugal

Is gay marriage legal in Portugal?

Yes, same-sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since 2010, before it was legalized in several other countries in Western Europe. Same-sex marriage has become increasingly common in the years since. To give some context, there were 266 same-sex marriages in Portugal in 2010. In 2022, which is the latest year that data is available from, Portugal witnessed 801 same-sex marriages.

Can I get a visa in Portugal through same-sex marriage?

Yes, in Portugal, marriages between same-sex couples have all the same rights as heterosexual couples. 

Can I get Portuguese citizenship if I'm in a same-sex marriage with a Portuguese citizen?

Yes, same-sex couples and LGBT people have the same rights as heterosexual couples. You are eligible to provide for Portuguese citizenship if your partner is Portuguese, provided that you first hold legal residency in Portugal for three years. Afterward, you can apply for citizenship.

Is Portugal safe for LGBT people?

Portugal is regarded as one of the safest countries in Western Europe and even the world for LGBT people. The country ranked fourth in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index 2023. Homophobic hate crimes are considered rare in Portugal. 

Portugal has gay bars, pride events, and protected adoption rights for gay couples and LGBT people, making it a great country to relocate to for LGBT expats.

Is Portugal gay friendly?

Portugal is a gay friendly nation. There’s substantial legislation to protect the rights of gay and lesbian people in the country. For example, same sex marriage is legal, and discrimination based on sexual orientation is recognized as grounds for asylum in the country. Additionally, there are several associations and events for gay people.

Major cities such as Lisbon and Porto are among the most tolerant places in the country.

What are Portugal's policies on gender identity?

Portugal’s Law on Gender Identity, ratified in 2011, enables transgender persons to change their legal gender on birth certificates and on other legal identity documents.

Does Portuguese law protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation?

Portuguese law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public services. The country’s legal framework aims to ensure equal rights and opportunities for individuals.

More on Portugal

Mortgages in Portugal: A Guide to Buying Property for For...
More Info arrow icon
Portugal Immigration Guide: Visa Options To Freely Circul...
More Info arrow icon
Americans Moving to Canada: A Comprehensive Guide
More Info arrow icon