The celebration of Pride month began in New York after an episode of police violence in 1969. On 28 June, police forces brutally entered a gay bar and began assaulting everyone present. The situation triggered demonstrations, at a time when it was forbidden for a gay couple to dance side by side in a nightclub. The Stonewall riots sparked various movements around the world and Portugal was no exception.

Portugal is currently considered one of the safest countries for the LGBTQ+ community to live and walk around, among other activities. However, ILGA Europe states that Portugal should have better legislation to protect the community.

Portugal took centuries to become a welcoming country for the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout history, there has always been a strong prejudice against homosexuals, especially in couples of two men, who were more recurrently talked about and judged.

Discoveries

About the Discoveries, it is common to talk about voyages and discoveries, the wealth brought by Portuguese navigators and how maritime paths were discovered through seas that had never been navigated before. History tends to eliminate negative parts like slavery and, in this case, homophobia. For sea voyages, only men sailed in the caravels, as homosexuality always existed, there was the possibility of gay men being on trips on boats and, eventually, getting involved with other sailors. If discovered, a sentence would be applied. Either the sailors would be left at the nearest port, or they end up being sentenced to death in the caravel.

Holy Inquisition

The period of the Holy Inquisition was probably the darkest in Portugal. The Catholic Church held practically all the judicial power and judged citizens who would commit crimes that were not acceptable in the eyes of God. In this case, the ones who suffered the most were gay men, who were tried with the death penalty, since sodomy was considered heresy. In the case of homosexual women, the crime was not considered so serious, having even been decriminalized in the 17th century. The men accused of the crime of sodomy were usually young boys who lived in extreme poverty and resorted to prostitution for money. However, there were cases of young people who, knowing they were homosexuals, started their sex life with other men before being forced to marry a woman. The Inquisition in Portugal received 4,000 complaints of sodomy, arrested 500 people and 30 were sentenced to death at the stake, apart from all those who were paraded in a humiliating way in the public square while being tortured.

XIX century

In the 19th century, there was a small change. Homosexuality was no longer seen as a crime in 1852. However, Egas Moniz, a physician and neurosurgeon, in one of his published works defined homosexuality as a mental illness and it was recognised as such until the 1980s. In 1886, homosexuality was once again criminalized.

Estado Novo

The Estado Novo, ruled by António Salazar, was based on the triad “God, Fatherland, Family”, so Christian values were the pillars of government. As such, sexuality had only one purpose: reproduction. In this sense, it was only legal for heterosexual couples to exist, so that the human race could continue. During the Estado Novo, the government-controlled all journalistic and cultural content before being published, censoring whatever was an attack on the values of the 1933 Constitution. Thus, every cultural product that mentioned homosexuality was censored and prevented from being published. Nevertheless, there was excessive persecution of homosexuals. The police arranged meetings with alleged homosexuals, pretending to be part of the community, to find a reason to arrest the man they were talking to. The same happened in public bathhouses, where the police would monitor the behaviour of men, to understand if they were escaping the laws of nature.

Post 25 April 1974

With fascism out of power in Portugal, it was expected that there would be an improvement and greater access to all kinds of freedoms, including sexual freedom. Although General Galvão de Melo had stated that the revolution was not made for homosexuals, in 1982 homosexuality was decriminalised. At this time, HIV emerged in Portugal, which was known at the time as a disease that only attacked homosexuals, justifying several episodes of homophobia. In this context, several cultural figures came out as homosexuals to support those who could not get help. In the 1990s, associations to support the LGBTQ+ community began to emerge, such as ILGA Portugal and events such as the Gay Pride Parade. In 1999, the possibility for gay or bisexual men to join the army was approved, excluding the possibility of transsexuals joining the armed forces. This measure still applies today.

Present

Currently, the topic of sexual orientation is discussed more openly and publicly. There is LGBTQ+ representation in culture, even though sometimes considered stereotypical. However, there has been an evolution in terms of acceptance of the theme. In 2009, the topic of sexual orientation was included in the sex education program in schools, and the following year, same-gender marriage was legalised. After several attempts, in 2015, adoption by homosexual couples was approved, although, in some cases, it is pointed out that priority is given to heterosexual couples during the adoption process.

There is still a long way to go. Homophobia is still a reality, but nothing compared to what existed in earlier times. During the next few days, in several cities of the country, there will be LGBT marches so that everyone can support and fight for a cause, which is related to Human Rights.