The Roma community (estimated at 50,000 people) experiences serious problems in relation to equal rights and integration.
Relations between members of Roma communities and the law enforcement agencies are generally tense. There have been reports of racist violence, with Roma representatives stating that victims do not report such matters to the police as they have never heard of any cases where police officers have been punished for such behaviour against Roma.
The specialised body in Portugal, the Alto-Comissariado para a Imigração e Diálogo Intercultural (ACIDI) [High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue] considers the situation of the Roma to be a priority issue.
The ACIDI launched a pilot project in 2010 which aimed to appoint Roma mediators in 10 Portuguese Town Halls.It is worth mentioning theproject ‘Intercultural Mediation in Public Services’– a pilot project developed under the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals, coordinated by the ACIDI. This project placed 28 intercultural mediators, whose goal was to promote interculturalism, in 25 public services (mostly health and municipal services). Mediators were also placed in the following areas: public security police, social security, housing, employment, and education. An estimated 14,000 people benefited from this programme and a new phase will start in March 2012 with 20 mediators.
The IV Plano Nacional para a Igualdade – Género, Cidadania e não Discriminação 2011-2013 [Fourth National Plan for Equality – Gender, Citizenship and Non-discrimination 2011-2013] approved on December 2010, specifies the need to train health professionals and raise their awareness of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Comissão para a Cidadania e Igualdade de Género (CIG) [the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality] has begun to work in the fields of sexual orientation and gender identity. Two organisations representing the LGBT community are now members of the CIG Advisory Board.
On 31 May 2010 Law 9/2010 was promulgated by Parliament, allowing civil marriage for same-sex partners.
With regard to age discrimination, Portuguese society is not yet fully aware of the issues involved in this relatively new field, and is only slowly becoming conscious of their implications. The Portuguese Government believes that the law already implements the Directive in respect of age, but positive measures have not so far been completely successful. The Portuguese Insurance Institute is trying to abolish the age limit for insurance by creating non-term life insurance for older people and some insurance companies have already created health insurance policies with no age limit.
With regard to religion, confessions other than Catholics still face problems ministering to people in hospitals and prisons. In addition, meals in state schools are still not adapted to other confessions, and in particular Islam.