Uruguay is the most gay friendly country in South America and tied 3 ranked most friendly in the world with France and Switzerland according to the Spartacus International Gay Guide. Uruguay became the third country in the Americas to legalise same-sex marriage in 2012. In late 2014, Montevideo launched its first gay-friendly advertising campaign.
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 (which got a makeover in 2019).
Montevideo Pride – last Friday of September
It feels in keeping with Uruguayans’ lack of frivolity where politics and social justice is concerned, that Montevideo’s Pride is currently known as the Diversity March and takes place in the mercilessly cold month of September (ok, I exaggerate but you should be aware that September is winter in Uruguay).
The march –known as the Marcha por la Diversidad in Spanish– starts at the Plaza de Independencia and ends on the steps of the Intendencia of Montevideo. It’s held annually on the last Friday of September.
I remember joining the march around 2001 and we were a few hundred souls. Even ten years ago, marchers numbered less than a thousand. However the last decade has seen significant changes and when Uruguay become the first country in Latin America to pass marriage equality laws in 2013, the 2018 march was the most numerous ever with around 200,000 of attendees from all walks of life. It was something else.
Perhaps as Fernando Frontán wrote regarding the history of the march*, perhaps Uruguay is ready for “Pride” as a celebration now.
You’ll be glad to know that Punta del Este as recently started a Pride celebration – in the height of Uruguayan summer – yay! Dates are usually in February.
September – Sexual Diversity Month
Every September, the Intendencia of Montevideo and the Ministry of Tourism promote an month-long sexual diversity agenda with events, talks, conferences and fairs.
This being Uruguay, the programme will only likely be out at the end of August, or even the first days of September itself (sigh…).
Unique gay bars and night clubs in Montevideo
The gay scene in Uruguay is not huge, with evening venues opening Wednesday to Sunday. Gay venues are welcoming of people of all sexual stripes.
There are several typical gay nightclubs –with names like Chains– just like those you can find in any other city. You might as well be anywhere in the world.
So to really check out REAL gay Uruguayez, the Guru recommends:
Il Tempo is open Thursdays to Sundays (and Wednesdays during the warmer months) on a typical Uruguayan schedule. Saturday nights is “ladies night” (but not exclusively so). The action starts after midnight with an all-women show starting not earlier than 3am and often at 4 in the morning. Much of the clientele moves en masse from Small to Il Tempo. On Sundays there’s a talent show. What makes it perhaps quintessentially Uruguayan-gay is that the talents are often accompanied by mums, dads and grandparents.
Il Tempo, Gonzalo Ramirez 2121, Parque Rodo.
Uruguay – most gay friendly country in South America
Many thanks to Carolina at Friendly Point for her advice regarding this article.
Photos courtesy Il Tempo
*History de la Marcha de la Diversity in Uruguay, interview with Fernando Frontán, in the Spring 2014 edition of Friendly Map Magazine (in Spanish)
[Article first published: July 22 2015; last updated date above]