The heterocisnormative glass ceiling: a literature and survey review of LGBTQI+ discrimination in the workplace in Portugal

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Drawing on work done within the CILIA LGBTQI+ study in Portugal, this paper analyses existing literature on the tangible and symbolic effects of workplace practices.

The paper uses qualitative surveys by Portuguese NGOs along with a review of scholarly work to identify patterns of inequality which affect the professional lives of people with non-normative sexual orientations and gender identities, focusing on specific points in the life course such as the transition into adulthood and the so-called mid-career ‘rush-hour’.

Three major tendencies are identified:

• The compulsory closet, in which workers feel ignored or dismissed, experience negative evaluations or the refusal of promotion or are subjected to ostracization and bullying.
• The peripheral nature of law, which is treated as a last resort in case of conflict – this means legal protection is not a major factor in deciding whether to come out at work.
• The conservative rise, which in Portugal is anchored in an attack on political correctness and the emergence of the gender ideology panic.

The glass ceiling is not rainbow-blind, the paper argues: its existence depends on complacent practices and value discourses. Research projects such as CILIA LGBTQI+ are crucial in identifying ways of achieving work-life balance, increasing workplace satisfaction and improving job security.