Government restricts access to information on 'golden visas'

CSOs welcome efforts to creat better conditions for trans, intersex people

Civil society groups in Portugal have welcomed a campaign by the state's Equality Body #DireitoASer aimed at creating awareness and support on the issues faced by trans and intersex people. The campaign started in May in the context of what the CIVICUS Monitor had reported was a heated debate on a law protecting the right to self-determination of gender on identification documents without a clinical procedure. The Parliament approved the bill on 13th April, but on 9th May the President of the Republic vetoed the legislation as it would include minors from 16 years old with parents’ permission. The President is pushing for the bill to have a “provision of prior medical evaluation for citizens under 18 years of age". 

A statement by ILGA wrote: 

"ILGA Portugal, combining its voice with the highest international recommendations on human rights, emphasizes that self-determination must also be guaranteed for minors. It is important to separate the medical sphere from the legal one in all cases and these testimonies and messages were passed in the various hearings in the Assembly of the Republic and with the President of the Republic, in which trans people, mothers and fathers of trans young people, activists and experts in this field, all and all in favor of self-determination in any of the cases."

The law will now go back to the parliament.

Peaceful Assembly

In a separate development, on 16th June 2018 the annual LGBTI Pride event took place peacefully with the support of the local administration and the police, opening a week-long celebration across the country. Traditionally, the march has received strong support in Portugal's biggest cities while finding resistance in smaller rural cities. Nevertheless, according to ILGA Portugal, in 2018 at least four more marches will be carried out in the country compared to last year.

Expression

Government restricts access to information on "Golden Visas"

In late March, Transparency International Portugal reported that the government had failed to provide the public with detailed information on so-called "golden visas", investment-related resident permits which exist in the majority of EU countries. These visas allow foreign investors to obtain a temporary residency and access to Europe's Schengen Area in exchange for investment to stimulate the economy. The Schengen area currently comprises of 26 European Union member states who have abolished passport controls at their borders for Schengen visa holders. Critics of the scheme say that, instead of stimulating economic activity, the visas have contributed to money laundering, corruption, organised crime and increased risks of corruption of politicians and public officials.

A list of beneficiaries was supposed to be released in November last year but at the time of writing, the list is still not available to the public. The report from Transparency International Portugal states

“Although there are several sources of information on statistical data on visas there is no centralised database so that the figures [from] different sources do not always coincide. It is also not possible to access the identity of the nature and size of their investments, which would allow civil society and the media to monitor the programme. In addition, only through leaks of information that Expresso in partnership with British newspaper The Guardian was able to reveal that several individuals suspected of corruption in Brazil were candidates for gold visas in Portugal.” (translated from Portuguese)
New EU Directive on the Protection of Whistleblowers

Civil society welcomed the European Commission proposal for a new Directive on the Protection of Whistleblowers on 23rd April 2018. According to Transparência e Integridade, the question of whistleblower protection has traditionally encountered resistance in the Portuguese landscape as culturally the concept was always associated with that of “traitor” or “snitch”. Nevertheless, there is hope that the Portuguese government will endorse the Commission proposal in the Council and that the directive could open a public debate on the issue.