Homosexuals persecuted in the New State _Estado Novo_ The New

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					                                        Country: Portugal – Publication: Público – ID: 119_JA_PT

                                                      Type Award: General Award

   Homosexuals persecuted in the New State (Estado Novo) The
      New State said that there were no homosexuals, yet it
                        persecuted them

                  Officially, it wasn't permitted. In discourse, they did not even exist.
   But in practice, it was common. Whether among the public, in public toilets, stations and docks,
arrested and humiliated by police, or among the social and cultural elites, who lived their sexuality in a
                        semi-tolerant atmosphere of shame and claustrophobia.

In Portugal’s New State, you could be gay, but you could not admit it. Not in the high society of
“marquis” and parties with homosexuals in private homes. Nor in bars, clubs and on the street,
cruising in public toilets and parks, on quays and in stations, in lower-class homosexuality. The
distinction between these two worlds became apparent when they were caught: those protected by
the regime were spared, the others were interned, beaten, humiliated.

What was it like to be a homosexual in the New State? What was it like to live in the realm of the
unsaid and semi-permitted? The answers found by Pública - with the help of scholars and
homosexuals who have lived through those tough times, some of whom will still only agree to speak
anonymously - reveal a system of severe punishments for the majority of homosexuals caught in
police raids and a silent permissiveness, which ignored or pretended that the practice didn't exist for
an elite who, because of its social status, were above morals and, more importantly, above the law. “It
wasn’t not spoken of and so it didn’t exist. That was the rule. Homosexuality was the secret that
everyone knew. And, as everyone knew about it, nobody talked about it”, says António Fernando
Cascais, a university professor and one of the oldest activists for the defence of the rights of
homosexuals in Portugal.

“People were treated differently depending on their social class; that difference in treatment started
before and intensified with the New State”, explains Cascais, who has the most comprehensive
database of the history of homosexuality in Portugal: “Typically, the lower classes - which were
rounded up in the street - were humiliated at police stations and beaten in public, made to walk the
streets, forced to wash floors. As for the families of the elite, there was a feeling of permissiveness, of
being seen as people who didn’t have to share the common morality, the middle-class morality.”

There was, therefore, freedom for those who had social status and money. “We had money to pay for
and to do a lot of things – to pay for the silence of society and the silence of the police”, admits
António Serzedelo, a retired professor and the head of Opus Gay, who in May 1974 co-authored,
together with friends from Lisbon and Porto - including the sociologist José António Fernandes Dias –

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the manifesto Freedom for Sexual Minorities, of the Action Movement of Revolutionary Homosexuals

An unnamed law
The law was clear. Homosexuality began to be punished by the Penal Code from the amendment of
1886, by Articles 70 and 71, which would remain in force for almost 100 years - until 1982. Without
ever mentioning the word, it dictates that those who “regularly give in to the practice of unnatural
vices” will be subject to “applicable security measures” such as “criminal imprisonment in a mental
hospital”, imprisonment in a work house or agricultural colony”, “probation”, “bail subject to good
conduct” and “prohibition from carrying out professional activities”.

The condemnation of homosexuality was to be stepped up with subsequent laws. The “law of July
1912 established a definition of ‘vagrant’ similar to that provided by the Penal Code and specified that
it apply to homosexuals”, wrote anthropologist and university professor Susana Pereira Bastos in The
New State and its Vagrants (Dom Quixote, 1997). In 1945, this determination began to be applied by
the sentence enforcement courts.

Mitra, established in 1933 to house beggars and vagrants, is where many of the homosexuals caught
by the police were imprisoned; this continued until 1952, when it became a psychiatric institution.
Another place was Pisão Labour Colony, according to Susana Pereira Bastos. Cascais states that
many homosexual females were “deported within the country to Castro Marim”.

Against “literary corruption”
In the 1920s, Europe, and Germany in particular, saw the “expression of a homosexual literary culture
and scientific discussion about homosexuality” which, in Portugal, was followed by the “social and
cultural elite”, says Cascais. But the Portuguese literary avant-garde was to be cut short before 28
May 1926 – the coup led by Gomes da Costa, which began the 48-year Portuguese dictatorship and
brought Salazar to power – by a movement that heralded cultural and mental support for Salazarism.

Led by Pedro Theotónio Pereira, the League of Student Action in Lisbon, a Catholic movement
founded in 1923, managed to persuade the government to ban the books of homosexual poetry by
Judith Teixeira (Decadência/Decadence), António Botto (Canções/Songs) and Raul Leal (Sodoma
Divinizada/Divine Sodom). This controversy would lead to the ostracism of these three poets. Raul
Leal lived in Paris, but Antonio Botto and Judith Teixeira were both persecuted. Botto was dismissed
from the civil service and ended up fleeing to Brazil with his wife who, in Rio de Janeiro, stayed by his
side until the end. Ill and suffering from syphilitic delirium, he died, in poverty, in 1959. Cascais recalls
that he was so poor that he “ate flour with water”. The poet tried to return to Lisbon by any means,
even to the point of writing to Cardinal Gonçalves Cerejeira, head of the Portuguese Catholic Church,
dedicating the poem Fátima and the lyrics of the hymn of 13th May, Ave, Fátima to him.

Judith Teixeira, meanwhile, was gradually completely silenced until she died, also in 1959, but in
Lisbon. She was treated even worse than Botto or Leal, says historian Alice Samara. “[Fernando]
Pessoa, in the text he writes in defence of the two men, doesn't mention her.” The criticism made of
her at the time “was political and not literary”. There was a reason for that cruelty: “She was a woman
who broke with modesty and affronted men. Even Marcello Caetano wrote against her.”

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From then onwards and for decades, homosexuality was expressed in literature in an enciphered,
cryptic manner: “Nobody wanted to end up like Botto and Teixeira”, says Cascais. “Even Eugénio de
Andrade said he didn’t want to pay what Botto had paid in his lifetime.”

António Serzedelo, head of Opus Gay and co-author of Liberty for Sexual Minorities, 1974

This context of self-censorship in the arts was only broken by the generation of surrealists and figures
such as Mário Cesariny and Natália Correia who, according to the professor and activist, “won back a
degree of freedom for homosexuality, which grew in the generation of Ary dos Santos, and even more
in the generation of before 25 April”. Maria Andrade, who ran the former lesbian magazine Lilás
(Purple), recalls this reclamation of space created by homosexuals and built on by the poet Manuel

“The arts were subject to harsh censorship and homosexuals were the most fiercely censored area,
provided that the artistic expression in question was not linked to the regime”, continues Cascais. But
“there were people who got around that censorship”. One of them was the actor and recitalist João
Villaret, who “subtly expressed his homosexuality by paying homage to and recovering for Portuguese
society the poetry of António Botto, with the argument that it had been Botto who had led him onto the
path of declamation”.

Untouchables of the regime
But while the morals of Theotónio Perreira became the gauge for the majority of society, among those
not pursued by police were supporters of the regime. “There were people recognised by the regime
who lived their homosexuality in private”, says Cascais.

The best example of this, pointed out by several of those interviewed by Pública, including the leader
of the PCP Ruben de Carvalho, is the case of the State Secretary for Relations with the Prime
Minister's Office during Salazar’s consulship, Paulo Rodrigues. But there are other cases. Cascais
recalls Virgínia Vitorino. “In the 1930s, she wrote subtle poetry, was among the best-selling authors
and had a radio programme with a solid following, where she praised the regime, especially in theatre
plays. And no one touched her.”

Cascais also points out that the intellectual and writer Edith Arvelos “was never bothered”. The writer
Eduardo Pitta recounts that she lived in Mozambique with the Italian singer Wanda del Ré and after
they separated she came to Lisbon and lived in the writer Fernanda de Castro's house, whose
memoirs she wrote. “Fernanda de Castro and António Ferro were a couple who were criticised
because of their relationships, but were protected because they were part of the regime”, says

The researcher explains that “Fernanda de Castro’s circle of friends, in which Natália Correia wrote
her first literary works at a young age, and that met up, for example, on holidays in the Algarve, was
clearly a circle of homosexual relations”. Cascais recalls “that homosexuality and bisexuality was
something acceptable that was considered normal in certain intellectual circles”, and as evidence he
refers to “an interview by a young António Ferro [when he was still a journalist], for Diário de Notícias,
in Paris with the writer Collette, in which he writes that she ended the conversation in a hurry because

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she had to go to a party with a girl she couldn't lose”. In other words, “there was a certain integration
of homosexuality in the regime and promotion of homosexuals by the regime, particularly the National
Propaganda Secretariat of António Ferro himself. The filmmaker Leitão de Barros is a well-known

The repression of Egas Moniz
Although there was a degree of openness in the cultural avant-garde and elites, the repressive legal
framework began to turn to science to support its ideological views.

“We didn't have a Magnus Hirschfeld [the German scientist who defended homosexual rights and
lived between 1868 and 1935]”, says Cascais, for whom “Portuguese science is conservative; it’s the
science of repression and medicalisation – look at the case of Egas Moniz”. It was the Nobel Prize-
winner in medicine who, in Portugal, spread the medical theories which defined homosexuality as a
disease. And it was that school of thought that was followed and further developed by Arlindo Camillo
Monteiro and Asdrúbal António de Aguiar of the Lisbon Institute of Forensic Medicine, who studied
“lesbian couples among the general population, in which one member takes on a masculine gender
role”, says Paul Guinote, author of the blog Educating My Belly Button, in his master's thesis
Everyday Females (1900-1933).

António Fernando Cascais has the most complete database on the history of homosexuality
in Portugal

Even among the elite, psychiatric treatment and electrical shock treatment were common practice for
the treatment of homosexuality. “The most famous example is the dancer Valentim de Barros, who
died in the 1980s, in the Miguel Bombarda Hospital, where he lived for almost 50 years”, after been
interned in 1938. This is a clear case of the medical repression of someone with a change in his
gender identity - Valentine Barros was a transvestite in his day-to-day life. “One way to express
homosexuality is to practise transvestitism. Irene Isidro’s transvestites became famous”, recalls
António Cascais.

Fernanda de Castro’s circle of friends was clearly a circle of homosexual relations
Repression is thus justified by the discourse of “scientific truth” propagated by some doctors. Science
also serves ideology. “Homosexuality is subversive for the New State because it breaks with the
norm”, says Maria Andrade of Lilás magazine. It undermines a pillar of middle-class society conceived
by Salazarism. “In a different way to ruffians, homosexuals also subverted the values of male honour,
confused the gender identities, upset the codes that controlled relations between the two sexes, and
rejected the family institution which was the backbone of the New State”, explains Pereira Bastos.

“But does that really happen?”
With women, the ideological construction of disapproval was no different. Paulo Guinote says that
female homosexuality “signified the destruction of the main roles which society assigned to women:
those of wife and mother”.

This ideological notion of the New State became increasingly stigmatising due to the subordinate
social role of women. “Until the 70s, women didn’t have sexual pleasure and their role was solely to
give sexual pleasure to men, so how could they have pleasure between themselves? It was

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considered inappropriate for women to experienced pleasure” summarises Serzedelo to explain the
silence that fell on lesbianism in Portugal and only worsened. Maria Andrade uses as an example the
case of the poet Alice Moderno who lived with Maria Evelina de Sousa, “a relationship which was
public and over the years was effaced”. This silencing is confirmed by Guinote: “There were few
public examples in Portugal; it was considered a habit of the elite and there were even some who
suggested that Queen Amélia had lesbian relationships”, he recounts.

The stigmatisation of lesbianism even resulted in women not being arrested for being lesbians. “When
there were parties, there were raids, but there was no criminalisation of lesbianism. The women were
arrested for wearing items of men’s clothing”, explains Maria Andrade. Paul Guinote adds that
lesbians who were perceived to be switching gender and were
expressing a masculine identity were arrested for "use of clothing of the opposite sex, use of an
assumed name and possession of false documentation”.

The lawyer Teresa Pizarro Beleza even maintains, in a text published in PÚBLICO (21/07/1999), that
"the probably law ignored female homosexuality for the same reasons as Queen Victoria (who asked
“but does that really happen?”), because it is, within the framework which emerges from nineteenth-
century moralism, unspeakable. Although grammatically the legislation could encompass female
homosexuality, case law systematically interpreted it as relating to male homosexuality.”

It was this interpretation of a “deviation” from the order of Salazarism that led to the majority of
homosexuals who fell into the traps of the police being imprisoned, beaten and humiliated. Hence, the
fear of being denounced was constant until 1982, when being homosexual ceased to be a crime in
Portugal. “People were constantly being watched, we were afraid of everyone from the PIDE
(International and State Defence Police) to our next-door neighbours. If a neighbour didn’t like us,
they could report us; people would denounce others out of spite. There were extreme cases; I know of
a Portuguese actress who went to the police to report her own son”, says the plastic artist Óscar
Alves, now 74 years old.

Yolanda Gonçalves, co-founder of ILGA. Her uncle, a Verde Gaio dancer, was arrested several times
by plain-clothed police

There were real grounds for this fear, such as blackmail. “If the police appeared and arrested people,
you paid up and the case would go away”, recalls Serzedelo, who specifies, “there were two kinds of
blackmail: one to stop the case move forward and, for ordinary people, there was the threat of Pisão,
Mitra or prison, or else they accepted being humiliated and made into sex slaves by the police”.

Police blackmail was a constant reality and the homosexuals interviewed by Pública who were young
at the time of the New State and asked not to be identified, recount that blackmail was even used on
the elite, as was the case with João Villaret and Leitão de Barros.

“It was impossible to be openly homosexual in the 50s,” says Óscar Alves, because “the men were
tracked down by the police and identified”. Author of the master's thesis From Act to Identity: Sexual
Orientation and Social Structuring, Octávio Gameiro states that Mario Cesariny was repeatedly
arrested in raids on public toilets and subjected to humiliation by the police. Yolanda Gonçalves, a

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retired university professor and co-founder of ILGA, also tells how her uncle, Mário Gonçalves, a
Verde Gaio dancer, was arrested. “Many times he was caught in the toilets in public gardens, where
undercover police officers pretended to be cruising.”

The police “appeared suddenly and harassed people and arrested them”, recalls Óscar Alves, citing
as an example “parties in private homes”, where, when the police came in, they were all arrested. "It
was terrible."

This fear conditioned behaviour. “Repression and self-repression” prevented homosexuals who “had
relations at night from greeting one another when their paths crossed in public during the day”, says

The exception was the social elites of Lisbon and Porto. The former motor racer Nicha Cabral, 75,
says: “I never felt that I was bothered by the police. I thought that what I was doing was normal...
homosexuality, bisexuality, I never thought of it as a deviation, I always lived in a non-homosexual
environment. I had a great friend, the actor Paulo Renato, an incredibly intelligent man, who thought
exactly as I do and, as far as I know, he didn’t feel persecuted”.

The Burnay case
But the apparent freedom with which the social elite acted did not ensure rights for homosexuals. The
case of Carlos Burnay, who was 24 years old and a member of one of the influential families of the
time, became a symbol of discrimination in the New State. As much as Ana Maria Burnay tried to use
her influence, her son Carlos’s killer was never found. In the police report, it was written clearly that
Carlos Burnay was a homosexual and that he held parties for homosexuals.

Óscar Alves recalls the mood that set in after Burnay appeared dead with a gunshot wound to the
head, the morning after having given a party at one of the houses that his mother owned in Cascais. “I
was invited but didn’t go to Carlos Burnay's dance; he held parties with homosexuals. His murder
caused quite a stir and they never found out who did it. I was in the Monumental [theatre] and Rogério
Paulo was invited and went. Afraid of the scandal, he married in haste. He wasn’t a homosexual, but
married the girl he was with, out of fear.”

While the fear of men was at that high level, in patriarchal Portuguese society the fear of women was
even greater. Óscar Alves explains that, even within the elite, there were few women that people
knew about. “There was Natália [Correia], her stories were with women. I knew some good friends of
hers in the 60s”, he recalls. “Another woman who was extremely open was Maluda, who was very
good friends with Amália, but Amália wasn’t [homosexual].” He adds: “There were Luzia Maria Martins
and Helena Félix, who people knew about, and Irene Isidro, who worked with those transvestites. She
told me many times: 'I'm afraid'”.

In an interview published under a pseudonym in the third edition of Lilás magazine, in 1993, a woman
identified as Peres explains: “In the 50s, it a big pretence. We would drive here and there in the car.
There were private parties.” Marita Ferreira, author of the blog Lesbian Thongs (Tangas Lésbicas)
and co-founder of ILGA, explains that even in the 70s, sport was a way for women to come out and
live as lesbians without being bothered: “Playing sports was a way of being able to have relationships
with girls and sleep in the same room.”

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Discrimination against lesbians was so widespread that often it even came from homosexual men.
“There was discrimination” and “the two communities, gay and lesbian, didn’t mix. The women were
discreet”, says Serzedelo. “And although one or two were arrested after having being reported, it was

Public places
That was the private world of homosexuality during the New State. But there was also a
public world. The meeting places evolved over the decades. Initially, stresses Cascais,
“there were no gay bars. People met secretly in public places”.

Óscar Alves remembers that there were always private parties until 25 April 1974 and points out that
when he arrived in Lisbon, from Porto, in the early 50s, “he used to go to the parties of a high society
gentleman, Ayres Pinto da Cunha, who, on Thursdays, received homosexuals and artists”.

Beyond the world of the drawing rooms of the upper class, in the 60s, intellectuals began living a
more natural homosexuality. But even within more libertarian groups, there were differences in
attitude, he points out. “In the surrealist group, there were some who didn’t want anyone to know, but
there was also Cesariny, who was very openly gay for the time”.

Óscar Alves uses the figure of Cesariny to explain the diversity of the time. “Cesariny didn’t get on
with intellectuals, he didn't enjoy spending time with them, but preferred working-class people. There
was a group that Cesariny mixed with who liked sailors and who didn’t frequent the places where
intellectuals gathered. Cesariny was always in the Reimar, which was more common, more working

It was in the Reimar pub, on Rua do Telhal in Lisbon, recounts Serzedelo, where
people like “Cesariny and Ary” would get together and “where the elite and working class
homosexuals mixed”. And it was a place where “there was freedom to sit on each other’s laps and
caress one another”.

In Lisbon, the Monte Carlo, Monumental cafes and Tony dos Bifes cafes, “Pastelaria Paraíso on
Avenida Alexandre Herculano, which was frequented by the writer Bernardo Santareno”, and the
Suíça and Brasileira cafes in Chiado, were meeting places for homosexuals, according to Serzedelo
and Óscar Alves.

In Porto, however, “there was nothing,” says Óscar Alves, who describes what it was like to be a
homosexual in Porto in the late 1940s. “I worked in Teatro Experimental do Porto with António Pedro,
who wasn’t gay, and Vasco de Lima Couto. We used to go to Cafe Rialto in Sá da Bandeira. While I
was in Porto, I had coffee every day with Pedro Homem de Mello and Vasco de Lima Couto. They
were out; everyone in Porto knew, but no one talked about it.”

The artist highlights how closed the society of Porto was at the time: “The only person who dared
stand up for himself when confronted was Eugénio de Andrade. No one dared touch Pedro Homem
de Mello either. Vasco de Lima Couto suffered a lot, but was didn’t hold back either. It was tough.
This was why I fled to Lisbon in 1952, to join the air force.”

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As for meeting places at night in Porto, Óscar Alves says there was only Jardim da Cordoaria and
Castelo do Queijo. In Coimbra, the local cruising spot, according to Serzedelo, was Jardim da Sereia.
And in Lisbon there were several gardens and public places. “The main focal points for meeting were
public toilets, railway stations, gardens, the docks where people disembarked from the other side, the
Cais do Sodré docks, where the sailors came in from Alfeite”, recounts Serzedelo. “Men were there
with good cars. The vocabulary was coded. We referred to sailors as ‘seagulls’ and soldiers as
Figures such as “Cesariny and Ary” would frequent the Reimer where “there was freedom to sit on
each other’s laps and caress one another.”
As for public toilets, “the main two were the one in Campo das Cebolas and the one in Campo
Pequeno” in Lisbon, says Serzedelo, adding that, at the time, “the gardens were safe with regards to
the police and there was no prostitution”. Eduardo VII Park was frequented for gathering, which was
one way, in those years, for homosexuals to meet one other. “The Estufa Fria area was where, for
example, [the conductor] Lopes Graça used to go”, remembers Serzedelo. “Campo Grande was
another park that was frequented, because of the students from the universities during the days and,
at night, because of the barracks there.” And Belém, an area of barracks where “there was a lot of
cruising in cars”.

Cruising Areas
It was in the context of public meetings subject to police violence that Bar Z emerged, in Lisbon, in
Príncipe Real, where Harry's now is. That bar, explains Serzedelo, “was opened by one of the
directors of the Carris transport company, who was English and had a lover called Zé (hence the “Z”),
as a place he could meet his friends, away from the police. At first, it was a private club. Much later,
after 25 April, the doorman Armando ended up opening Finally.”

In the absence of their own exclusive venues, homosexuals frequented the fashionable spots. So,
besides the fado houses, Óscar Alves and Serzedelo remember places like the club of the
aristocracy, Ad-Lib, or less aristocratic Galo in Mayer Park, Barbarella at the bottom of Rua da
Atalaia, Insólito and Antiquário in Príncipe Real, Memorial, that opened and closed under the names
Gato Verde and Gato Preto, and was the first bar to organise tea dances for lesbians. Until José
Filipe Vilhena opened Bric à Bar, one of the mythical venues on the homosexual night scene towards
the end of the New State, says António Serzedelo, adding that it “had the first female doorwoman who
became famous in Lisbon, Emília”.

Very famous in the early 70s, and aimed at younger gay audience, was the Marygold on Rua do Sol
ao Rato, perhaps the venue most raided by the police as a result of the amount of complaints that
were made. Many of the accounts heard by Pública explain that the complaints were prompted by the
suspicion that homosexuals were going there to prostitute themselves and take drugs. This
association between homosexuality and drugs first emerged while Marcel Caetano was prime minister
and was the start of a rise in drug use that exploded in the 1980s.

As for restaurants, the first openly homosexual restaurant in Portugal was Baiúka, in the Bairro Alto
area. Alfaia was popular with lesbians.

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The beaches of Costa da Caparica were also meeting places. Octávio Gameiro explains that before
there was a bridge across the Tagus, Costa da Caparica was safe from the police. Serzedelo
specifies that the place of choice in Caparica was Castelo beach, today beach 14.

At universities, only politics
Fruit of the colonial war and ideas that came from abroad, Portuguese society gradually acquired
more liberal habits and that was reflected in the attitude to sexuality. “In the 1960s, a libertarian
current and a movement standing up for homosexuality came into Portugal via an elite that had
access to ideas from abroad”, says Cascais. But the researcher explains that this opening up, which
“converged with the social freedom as emerged in the Marcelist Spring (1968-1970), only existed in
high society, some nascent middle classes and intellectual and artistic circles”. The raids continued,
but “people weren’t arrested”.

This greater freedom was not reflected in universities. Retired university professor Yolanda
Gonçalves tells of her experience as a student. “At university, which I started in 1964, the academic
fight dominated the whole scene. The mentality in literature was terribly conservative”, she explains,
adding that people talked about homosexuality but “retrospectively”, referring to the affairs of the
former dean, Vírginia Rau. “It was very stuffy, very secretive, because infiltration of the PIDE’s spies
was at its height.” She adds that even in literature “male homosexuality was still more visible”.

Cascais maintains that “university students got involved in the political struggle, but didn’t fight for the
rights of women and of homosexuals”. It was this separation that, according to António Cascais, was
behind the fact that “after 25 April, Portuguese society maintained patterns of homophobia”. He
explains: “The elites that formed the political parties came from universities and from a political
background that didn’t include the defence of the rights of minorities, unlike what happened in Spain,
where gay movements linked to political parties were born immediately after the fall of Francoism”. (In
Spain, the state is currently reviewing the persecution of homosexuals and the first compensations
are being awarded.)

Thus, in terms of the attitude towards homosexuality, 1974 did not bring freedom. The Action
Movement of Revolutionary Homosexuals (MAHR) died out soon after publishing its manifesto in the
newspapers. That was the first document in defence of gay rights in Portugal and it provoked an
angry reaction from one member of the National Salvation Junta, General Galvão de Melo, who went
on television to say that the revolution had not happened for “prostitutes” and “homosexuals”. In its
short life, it even organised a demonstration in Porto, next to Clérigos Tower, which the newspapers
reported was attended by a thousand demonstrators, but there were actually “998 onlookers there to
see the two ‘poofs’”, says Serzedelo, remembering a joke made by a member of group on that day.

Lesbianism, meanwhile, has still acquired no rights. Even the Women's Liberation Movement, which
included several lesbians, never took up this struggle and its radicalism was only in defence of

Only in the 1980s does the phenomenon that many homosexuals and scholars call the
“democratisation” or “proletarianisation” of homosexuality occur. A turning point that Cascais marks
symbolically with the death of the singer António Variações, on 13 June 1984: “On that day, in the

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Basílica da Estrela, I realised that there was a world
which had died. Nothing would be the same again.”

Óscar Alves, 74 years old, says that they were constantly being watched and were afraid of everyone
from the PIDE to the next-door neighbours

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                                                  Love in a PIDE prison

In the PIDE (International and State Defence Police) prison in Caxias, in a group cell with over ten
women, the majority of them communist militants, the leader of the PCP, Fernanda de Paiva Tomás,
and the doctor and supporter of the PC of Angola, Julieta Gandra, had a five-years homosexual love

The two women suffered from a double stigma: they were in a PIDE prison and under the
reproachful gaze of their fellow inmates. They met in prison in 1961, Julieta Gandra was released in
1965, but the relationship continued until 1984, the year of Fernanda de Paiva Tomás’ death. She
was the woman who served the longest political prison sentence enforced by the PIDE: nine years
and nine months (see PÚBLICO of 22/10/2007).

Their love story left such a strong mark on the memory of the political prisons of the New State that,
decades later, when writing her memoirs, Maria Eugénia Varela Gomes was still criticising the two
women. The relationship was more or less forgotten, or was described leaving out the intimate details
and the scandal it caused.

Even today, raising the matter causes embarrassment among members of the anti-fascist and
communist opposition parties, admits Ruben de Carvalho, a member the Central Committee of the
PCP. “The affair between Juliet Gandra and Fernanda de Paiva Tomás was trickier because it was in
prison and was something that none of the other women there were prepared for. They weren’t
prepared to live with that in the cell, where there were even children”, Ruben de Carvalho told
Pública, stressing that “that was in Portugal in the 60s”. This communist leader adds another level of
analysis: “They are both intellectuals from good families; it wasn’t an affair between working women
or women from a working class or rural background”. And, he says, “the hostility that Fernanda de
Paiva Tomás felt in the cell” from the other communist leaders and activists will have contributed to
her leaving the PCP to join the far left.

PCP: the Fogaça affair
Fernanda de Paiva Tomás’ homosexuality was never publicly used by PIDE – Ruben de Carvalho
points out –, nor was another important case in the history of the political prisons, the arrest of the top
leader of the PCP, Júlio Fogaça, in a hotel in Nazaré with his partner in 1960.

In the PIDE file on Fogaça, as well as the political conviction for being the leader of the PCP, it is
written: “Sentenced by the Court on 6-4-962, having been classed as a passive pederast who
habitually practiced unnatural vices.” The historian Irene Pimentel explains to Pública that this type of
record “is not very visible in PIDE proceedings and is not at all evident for women”. Interestingly, she
points out that Fogaça's homosexuality would not be used to denigrate him by the PIDE inspector
Fernando Gouveia until he wrote his memoirs after 25 April.

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Although the PIDE did not use this information to politically attack the PCP, in homosexual circles
there was fear that complaints made to the police would reach the PIDE. There is, according to many
of the gays and lesbians who spoke to Pública, the memory of many homosexuals who were
“hassled” by the PIDE. “Persecution often occurred as a result of complaints and the PIDE also paid
for information about homosexuals behaviour”, the artist Óscar Alves confirms.

Ruben de Carvalho highlights the fact that the PIDE never used information about the sexuality of
prisoners precisely because fascism had a “special way of dealing with homosexuality”, not
acknowledging it but allowing it in certain elite groups. For instance, Paulo Rodrigues, the State
Secretary for Relations with the Prime Minister's Office, was publicly known as a homosexual and
worked with Salazar on a daily basis.

The Fogaça affair, however, was complicated for the PCP, a party which existed clandestinely in a
homophobic society, and Fogaça ended up being expelled from the party in 1961 due to “aspects of
conduct” (see PÚBLICO of 28/01/2000).

The difficulties created for the PCP by the homosexuality of one of its leaders could be used for
political reasons, stresses of Ruben Carvalho. He explains that “there was a complicated period after
25 April” related to this matter: “It was complicated when the PIDE received the testimony of the man
who was arrested with him. It is a sordid police document dealing with emotional problems. It isn’t a
political testimony. Had it been made public, it would have caused difficulties for the PCP.”

But Ruben de Carvalho insists that the expulsion of Fogaça, who, 20 years ago was the greatest
opponent of Álvaro Cunhal in determining the political and ideological orientation of the PCP, was not
due to homophobic prejudice. It was simply due to security issues: “I’ve always heard it stressed that
the expulsion of Fogaça had nothing to do with his homosexuality, but the fact that he jeopardised the
security of the party. He used party property, houses, cars, for his romantic meetings. Even if Fogaça
were Álvaro's twin brother, after what had happened the outcome would have been the same. He
jeopardised the organisation and the political party and, although he wasn’t used, he could have

The difficulties created for the PCP by the homosexuality of a leader could be used for political

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                      Portuguese Colonial War
     Yes, there was greater sexual freedom, but one officer killed
                       himself while on parade

    Hundreds of soldiers were interrogated and punished during the Colonial War for homosexual
  practices. Proper procedures were scrapped. There was talk of activities that undermined national

Its number is 1/808/71. It was an inquiry procedure started in Mozambique in the Nampula Barracks
by the Military Police. Investigations ran from January 1971 to December 1973. But according to
information provided to Pública by the General Army Archives in Lisbon, the proceeding continued in
Mozambique after decolonisation. Officially, the investigation was into the existence of subversive
activities that undermined national security and involved hundreds of members of the military, and
was extended to other places involved in the Colonial War, such as Angola. But the subversion in
question was not political. It was the accusation of homosexual practices.

The proceeding began in January 1971 when, after a night of sex, two soldiers called the military
police to the room where they had slept with two other men, accusing them of theft. In the house,
photographs of homosexual parties involving soldiers were found. The number of raids and
interrogations increased, and finally the scandal became official. The word "homosexuality" or any
equivalent would not be written. But there were victims of the investigations and interrogations that
had no rules, victims of punishments and detentions, victims coercively sent to the front line, wealthier
families bringing in lawyers to banish the shame and clear their names. And there was even the
suicide of an officer during a parade.

But with the disappearance of the proceeding, nothing can be proven about what went on in the case.
However, the matter is partially addressed in fiction in the third story Nightmare (Pesadelo), from the
book entitled Persona by Edward Pitta (Ed. Angelus Novus, 2000).

“It was utter madness”
A major in the Reserve Corps, Mário Tomé, a former aide-de-camp of General Kaúlza de Arriaga
when he was commander-in-chief of Mozambique, who held this post between September 1972 and
July 1973, told Pública that he does not remember the proceeding, but acknowledges its existence
and that it “had been discussed among the officers”. Tomé believes that “the proceeding was
irregular” and that “Guira [then Head of Military Police at Nampula] had always been a loose cannon”,
which is why the investigation “was an outrage”.

Mário Tomé says that, although prohibited in the Regulations of Military Discipline (RDM) – and was
until 1999 – homosexuality was commonplace. “There were officers who were homosexuals and
people knew.” The same officer recounts that “there were cases which might undermine the discipline
of the unit and the morale of the troops”, but stresses that the situation was normal. Tomé even adds
that in companies under his command, there were homosexual soldiers who “were protected and had

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parties where men danced with men and some dressed as women”. And he concludes that, “as long
as they didn’t make too big a show of it and there were no complaints, it wasn’t a problem”.

Speaking generally, Mario Thomas argues that “it’s normal, in a barracks environment, for frustrated
or repressed homosexuality to be released”, and explains that a confined and closed environment
ultimately intensifies this effect: “At the time, homosexuality was accepted among the elite, but was
condemned socially; in the army it was less condemned. It was odd, but it didn’t limit the soldiers.”
This normality was dramatically portrayed by Joaquim Leitão in the film 20,13.

The plastic artist Óscar Alves corroborates that in Africa “it was utter madness” and that “there was a
high level of homosexuality in the army”. Former motor racer Nicha Cabral
says that the first time he went to Angola to race, in 1961, he realised that “many soldiers did it for
money or because they wanted to and talked about it”.

Speaking from personal experience, the social chronicler Carlos Castro says that, in 515 company,
which he was with in Angola, “together with Ernesto Melo Antunes” he was always “protected, by him,
from harassment from other soldiers. I never felt discrimination from the troops”, he recalls, adding
that it was “in the barracks that the transvestite tendencies of Belle Dominique and Guida Scarlatty

This situation is not specific to the Portuguese Colonial War. Octávio Gameiro, author of the master's
thesis From Act to Identity: Sexual Orientation and Social Structuring, recalls: “The gay movement
began in the United States with the demobilisation of Korea. Troops went to the area of the port city of
San Francisco and never returned home. War takes people to the edge, its an exceptional situation, a
lot of things are put in parenthesis and relationships of solidarity lead to life choices.” Nicha Cabral, for
his part, explains that, from what he saw, many of those who had homosexual relations in Angola
were not homosexuals: “A lot of homosexuality came from the need for tenderness, affection, to
spend time with civilized people”.

So, there were soldiers who had homosexual relations and then returned, married and had children.
Others maintain homosexual relationships to this very day. Specialist in homosexual history and
university professor António Fernando Cascais explains that “in the Colonial War, more or less open
relationships between men were accepted”. And he stresses that “that’s where the realisation that
men can have relationships with each other was born”. Cascais specifies that in Lobito and Luanda
there was a precursor of what came to be “gay communities”.

More open lesbianism
But in Africa, homosexuality was not only permitted in barracks, it was also permitted among the
elites. In the 1960s, Luanda, for example, where Carlos Castro – who lived in Moçamedes – went
when he was 15 years old, was a city where “one saw soldiers who were very openly gay” in cruising
areas such as “Grande Avenida and Mutamba bus station”. And he says that there were “gatherings
in private homes” and that “no one was arrested”.

Also, among women, there was open lesbianism in several cities in Angola in the late 60s and early
70s. According to information gathered from lesbians who lived there but have asked to remain
anonymous, in Sá da Bandeira (today Lobango) there was a group of lesbians who “walked around”

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and did as they wished, and this group included men. They were the daughters of elite families and
went to the beach in Moçamedes.

In Luanda, it was the same. Women would get together at a house where there were parties at the
weekend, in the Alvalade district, or in the houses of the elite, and frequented bars, cabarets and
restaurants at night; they were straight venues, but women could caress and kiss one another. There
was such great freedom that, after 25 April 1974 and before the independence of Angola, in Luanda
there were two women who married civilly before a notary, though – as is still the case today – the
marriage was not legally valid.

In Mozambique, homosexuality was less visible, but was permitted among the elites, explains the
writer Eduardo Pitta, who was born in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). “There were parties just for
homosexuals in Catembe, in the house of the head of the bilingual Portuguese-English radio station,
but there were also homosexual parties, for example, in the home of Edith Arvelos, who lived with the
Italian singer Wanda del Ré”, recounts Pitta.

The meeting places for men in Lourenço Marques were the Café Scala and the cabarets on Rua
Araújo, which were frequented by lesbians too, who also met in private homes, the club in Hotel
Girassol and at Hotel Polana, says Sónia Lavinas, who is retired and living in Belo Horizonte, and was
the daughter of an elite family from Lourenço Marques – her father was a teacher and her mother was
the private secretary of the wife of the governor Baltasar Rebelo de Sousa.

In Beira, says Marita Ferreira, co-founder of ILGA and author of the blog Lesbian Thongs (Tangas
Lésbicas), “it was difficult for women who were classed as lesbians”. At night, both women and men
went to the Moulin Rouge club and “the men had an area by the sea, but they were more exposed
there and there were sometimes beatings”. Marita Ferreira recalls: “For me, it was easy, because I
was the daughter of a manager, but I had friends who were arrested and threatened by the police. As
homosexuality 'didn't exist', it was persecution with impunity.”

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