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Uruguay – most gay friendly country in South America

"Gay" signage

Uruguay is the most gay friendly country in South America and 9th friendliest in the world according to the Spartacus International Gay Guide.

In 2005, the capital Montevideo became one of the few cities in the world to have a homomonument  – a rose-colored granite in the shape of a triangle inscribed with the words: “To Honour Diversity is to Honor Life”. It’s tucked in a little plaza in the Old City of Montevideo (though the plaza is miserable and deserves a good make-over).

The Rambla in Autumn. Gay Uruguay
Montevideans and visitors, gay and straight, let it all hang out on the rambla

Gays in Uruguay – part of the furniture?

In Montevideo, it’s common to see gay couples – men and women- holding hands on the rambla, the 25-km promenade that borders the River Plate. And while older generations may be taking their time to come around to the changes, younger generations are openly supportive of gay peers.

There are just a few gay bars and my experience is that gay men and women don’t tend to ghettoise. They are very much part of the general fabric of society. Though there is a certain air of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

A gay emigrant to Uruguay living in Colonia writes: “I live in the Uruguayan equivalent of the Bible belt with my partner of 28 years and thus far have encountered no negative vibes at all. I’ve met with a few surprised looks from officialdom but nothing negative whatsoever. … Unlike the US, UK and Ireland, being gay has never been a crime here so there isn’t the same historical baggage and resentment that you still find in certain places… an individual’s sexuality is viewed as a personal matter and is of no concern to the neighbors (except perhaps for a bit of gossip.)”.

Progressive same-sex legislation in Uruguay for a century

The early twentieth-century is characterised by a golden era of progressive national politics which included the separation of church and state in 1917. In 1934, homosexuality was decriminalised. The same year the age of consent was lowered to 16 – regardless of who you were having sex with.

The past decade has seen big changes regarding rights for gays, lesbians and trans

Anti-discrimination laws are in place since 2003, and gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military and jointly adopt children since 2009.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions since 2008  and since 2013, to marry.

Transgender people have been able to change their gender on official documentation since 2009.

So it looks like it’s time to plan your visit to the gay-friendliest nation in South America!


Chihuahua, a nudist beach several miles west of glitzy Punta del Este has the only hotel exclusively for gay men in the whole of Uruguay.

Further reading about gay Uruguay in English

 Many thanks to Rodrigo Borda, of Friendly Maps and half of the first gay couple to register to marry in Uruguay, for letting me pick his brains for this article. 

Photos courtesy of Rabble and Montecruz Photo via Flickr.

Buy Guru'Guay travel guides to Uruguay and Montevideo


  1. David Bohn

    November 15, 2016

    Aloha from Sunny Hawaii: Am making my travel plans for 2017 and I think I will be heading to Uruguay for my vacation. Enjoyed your website and look forward to seeing more there soon! Have a nice day and now I am heading for the beach! (:

  2. gay gringo

    October 17, 2015

    Hi I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Currently traveling in Argentina and will be in Montevideo again in late October/early November. I am writing a Uruguay guide for gay backpackers. And again I love all the info in your blog but just a note I’m bothered when you write “that gay men and women don’t tend to ghettoise” this implies that when people ghettoise they make a choice to separate themselves. This is not the case, people are ghettoised – it is something that is done to them, it is not a choice they make. I’m sure you did not mean harm by writing that but still wanted to offer up that thought.

    • Welshwitch in Uruguay

      October 20, 2015

      Hello! Yes, I was using ghettoise in its informal sense. Perhaps I am influenced by its use in Spanish where for instance Argentinian friends of mine living in a little enclave in Costa Rica would refer to their Argentine-only neighbourhood as ‘the ghetto’… Looking forward to reading your posts on Gay Uruguay, it’s time there was more updated info! Best best — Karen

  3. Christopher Moffitt

    July 13, 2015

    Hi Karen
    Im planning a trip to Uruguay last three weeks of september.
    Do you have any rooms available?
    I will be travelling alone. Staying in or near Montevideo for the first 5-7 days then would like to travel a little before returning for the last 3 days.

    Thanks and i look forward to hearing from you.


  4. Hunton Conrad

    June 26, 2015

    I lived in Montevideo in 1962-1963
    Loved it then, plan to return, from Hawaii then and still from Hawaii.

  5. Michael

    October 23, 2014

    My partner and I plan on visiting very soon. I cant wait to experience!


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