Portugal’s President is accused of sexism

… after walkabout comments in Toronto

President, accused of sexism

Portugal’s President has been accused of sexism after pointing out a woman’s cleavage was on show and saying she was ‘prettier than her mother’. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa made the comments while on a walkabout in Toronto and pointed to her cleavage, saying she would “catch the flu”.

The Daily Mail reports that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa made what it describes as cringeworthy comments while on a walkabout in Toronto as part of his official visit to Canada this week.

The 74-year-old was greeted by excitable residents, including a mother and daughter of Portuguese origin, as he strolled about the city with officials. The mother brought her daughter forward as she told the president they were both called Maria. 

‘The daughter is more beautiful than the mother,’ Mr Rebelo de Sousa then rudely told the pair. ‘But the daughter might catch the flu, yet. Have you seen her cleavage?’ he added, before quickly walking away with a smirk on his face.

The Mail continues to describe how the comments “sparked a backlash in Portugal”, forcing the leader, who has become known for his conservative views, to issue a staunch defence. 

‘It wasn’t a sexist comment. I didn’t think of it like that and neither did the young woman or the old ladies. It wasn’t sexist at all,’ he said. He went on to contend that he had spoken to ‘several people but apparently only the comment to one young woman was filmed’.

But many weren’t impressed with his explanation, with women’s rights activists and political rivals demanding an apology. ‘He should apologise. Sexism is killing us. It’s not a joke,’ said Isabel Moreira, an MP in the ruling Socialist Party. ‘This is 2023. You can’t just walk up to a woman you don’t know and make a “joke” about her weight or about her cleavage.’ 

President is accused of sexism
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa quickly walked away with a smirk on his face after he made the comments

Manuela Silva, director of the Democratic Women’s Movement, said his remarks were made in a ‘lighthearted manner that undermines the dignity of women’.

‘In fact, the president talks too much and doesn’t say what he should,’ she said.

‘There’s a set of rights that have been won by women that are not being fulfilled, and this is what should concern the president, not poor taste jokes… I think he comes across very poorly,’ she told reporters.

Criticism of the president comes after comments he made over the ‘Kissgate’ scandal involving Spain’s football chief sparked yet more controversy.

When asked his thoughts on Luis Rubiales kissing Spain player Jenni Hermoso, Mr Rebelo de Sousa brushed it off, saying it was a ‘minor issue’ in comparison with the war in Ukraine. 

Mr Rebelo de Sousa, a regular visitor to Madeira, was in Canada for a five-day official visit last week, which included talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Their discussions focused on the illegal working conditions faced by many Portuguese nationals living in the country, he said.’They are working hard in Canada, and I think there is a great openness from the Canadian government to solve the problem’, he told reporters. 

The republic’s president also met and had dinner with Portuguese emigrants and Portuguese descendants at LIUNA, a union in the construction sector, before the end of his trip on Sunday. 

16 thoughts on “Portugal’s President is accused of sexism”

  1. Manuela Silva, director of the Democratic Women’s Movement, said his remarks were made in a ‘lighthearted manner that undermines the dignity of women’. I bet she’s a bundle of fun.

  2. I am sure we have all come out with crass statements in the past which are no longer acceptable. As a 74 year old he needs to be more careful in what he says, especially in his position.

    • Maurice, ignoring the advice of our resident expert on all things, I have just come from my local pharmacy where I was given both the Covid and Flu Jabs by a very attractive, in my eyes, young Bulgarian, lady, who after I admired her bright yellow nail job, thanked me and went on to talk about her country. Am I now supposed to feel guilty for my compliment? Should she now feel guilty for thanking me instead of telling me I was sexist and standing up for the rights of her sisters?

      “Manuela Silva, director of the Democratic Women’s Movement, said his remarks were made in a ‘lighthearted manner that undermines the dignity of women’.” So on the off chance we may undermine the dignity of women we should not converse with the ladies except in a grave and serious mode.

  3. I feel the younger, less experienced adults of this world should “lighten up”. If they got on with life like we oldies had to and do instead of finding fault with then, we could together start really helping Mother Nature. Or is that being sexist too?

  4. The president despite being very popular this time he did put his foot in it definitely. And at the same did insult the poor mother of the women .🤐🤐



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