To LGBT was added the letter I for intersex and Q for queer, which in the literally term means "strange", however, in the acronym, it includes those who do not want to be labelled with other sexual orientations and look at sexuality as a fluid concept . The “+” was included in the acronym in order to include all humans as (non) affective beings.
ILGA Portugal is a Portuguese association created in 1995, according to its website, its objective is “the social integration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex population and their families in Portugal through a broad programme of support within the scope that guarantees the improvement of their quality of life”. ILGA Portugal is associated with other European non-governmental organisations that share the same objective.
During 2019, ILGA Portugal published a study where statistical results regarding 171 complaints were shared. In the report, the association mentions that about half of the complaints made constitute crimes, about a third reached the responsible entities, the rest were not carried out due to discrediting the victim's narrative, lack of knowledge of the possibility of filing a complaint or "disbelief" in the role of authorities, in crimes of the same nature. In most cases, witnesses choose not to intervene.
For the preparation of the report, the complaints were answered "in the form of confidential and anonymous questionnaires." The association noted that, in 2019, there were additional complaints made by victims of "prejudice, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sexual characteristics, real or presumed." The report, among other findings, points out that more than 40 percent of victims identify themselves as men and more than 35 percent as gay.
From the same report, aggressions mostly happen at home or at school. In schools, aggressions came either from teachers or from the victim's schoolmates.
Nádia is bisexual and has often heard homophobic comments from teachers. The young woman was openly dating a girl, in addition to having once seen one of her teachers react to a photo of the couple “with a disgusted face”, Nádia recalls that the same teacher considered homosexuality a disease and “compared it with paedophilia.” The student always tried to respect the teachers, disagreed when she thought she could, however she was afraid of having her academic future compromised by the possibility of a wrong assignment of grades due to her sexual orientation.
João says that his school career was marked by bullying, from 10 to 17 years old insults were recurrent, with derogatory names they attributed to the young man, together with jokes. According to the student, who identifies himself as gay, he never suffered physical aggression, however his classmates refused to talk to him, "they hid daily material" and "they tried to humiliate [João] with other jokes." The young man filed a complaint with the teachers who mobilised “to resolve the situation”. However, an “overtly homophobic” teacher tried to undermine João's academic path after learning what his fellow teachers were trying to solve. The student, in addition to allegedly seeing his presentations sabotaged, found that the teacher “made constant jokes” about João.
Rui realised early on that he wasn't "like most people." In addition to physical attacks and insults, the young man recalls the day when his parents were called to school about Rui talking to himself in class. The student was just talking to his classmates, who created the narrative that he was talking to himself. The class "included people with special educational needs" and teachers decided to put Rui with these students "so that he wouldn't disturb the classes anymore." In spite of the complaints to the (non) teaching staff, "it never solved anything." One day, a teacher witnessed an attack on the young man at the door of the classroom. Upon entering the room, the only measure taken by the teacher was to ask Rui to stop crying.
Marco is 39 years old, today he considers himself as a homosexual, despite being mocked "by the unusual shape" of his head, there were also some "insinuations about [his] femininity." Later when he started going out at night he turned into the target of a young man from the city who made constant threats to him, which made Marco feel afraid of being at school and stopped doing “some of the things he used to do.”
ILGA Portugal carried out a study which sought to understand how LGBTQ+ young people felt in the school environment. During the 2016-2017 school year, 663 students aged between 14 and 20 were questioned. The report says that 36.8 percent of young people feel insecure about their sexual orientation and about a quarter avoid environments such toilets or physical education classes. About 60 percent heard homophobic comments, which end up causing annoyance to victims.
Most of the young people interviewed for the purpose of this report admit to having found it difficult to accept themselves as a LGBTQ+ person. Marco, for example, due to fear, fled to Coimbra "because he didn't want to remain afraid." To João, the attacks made him "afraid to make friends with other LGBT people."
To combat the lack of preventive measures and action in situations of bullying against LGBTQ+ youth, ILGA Portugal created the Diversity Alliance (ADD) which, according to its website, “is a group of students (and supportive teachers) who want to make school safer for everyone”, regardless of sexual orientation, including those who still have doubts about their sexuality.
Editors note: All names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed