Portugal, and also the Madeira Archipelago, has a long history of repression and public intolerance of homosexuality. Luckily these days … the voices of repression have simmered down and can be ignored … as Madeira has become generally tolerant of homosexuality, which was decriminalized in 1982, eight years after the Carnation Revolution.
While in Lisbon, Oporto and Algarve the gay scene is increasing, in other smaller cities and regions such as Leiria, Braga and Madeira the (local) gay and lesbian activity is still very repressed and discrete, although the gay community is actually much larger than it seems. In Funchal there are no specific clubs and bars for gays and lesbians, which is uncommon for a European city with over 100,000 inhabitants.
Unfortunately, there are still some anti-gay feeling among more conservative elements in Portugal. The consistently reactionary and influential Catholic church, for example, is still light years from accepting the homosexuality as normal. Also issues like single-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples still have to be resolved, as in other countries.
Other than that â€¦ gay and lesbian are most welcome as any other visitor here on Madeira. Only do not expect to find everything here (yet).