chapter  7
32 Pages

Sexual Orientation in Portugal: Towards Emancipation

In a context of hegemonic globalization, minorities constitute counter-

powers whose potential for resistance and subversion may effectively

result in a renegotiation of the rules of the game. In this context, the

complex, heterogeneous and often diffuse lesbian-gay-bisexual-

transsexual movement (LGBT)

offers an important challenge to

contemporary sociological thought (Stein and Plummer 1996; Hawkes

1996; Seidman 1997). There are two central aspects to the debate about

the LGBT movement within the wider reflection upon alternative forms

of social emancipation. First, there is voluminous historical evidence of

the oppression of homosexual, bisexual and transsexual men and women

throughout the centuries by the ‘compulsive heterosexuality’ (Rich 1993)

and, since the Inquisition, there have been many cases of persecution,

torture and murder of people because of their sexual orientation, acts still

legally permitted in some countries (Mott 1987; Richards 1990; Amnesty

International 1997; and Rosenbloom 1996). But, rather than simply

repeat well-known facts, there is a need to question whether this form of

oppression necessarily contains potential for emancipation. In other

words, is the social oppression of a particular minority group enough to

turn it into a counterhegemonic force?