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).
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.
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
- Uruguay singer Ana Prada champions LGBTI rights (2014)
- Gay Montevideo (2015)
- A coming-out story is told in one of Guru’Guay’s 5 Uruguayan films you must see
- Uruguay adopts friendly business certification (2018)
Cover photo by Romerito Pontes.
Dear Readers, many of the commenters below were interested in staying in my guesthouse. We had many gay guests, in fact our first ever were two wonderful gay couples from Canada. However after ten years (2010-2020), we closed the guesthouse so I could dedicate myself full-time to Uruguay. If you are looking for wonderful gay-friendly accommodation, do check out our recommendations of memorable places to stay in Uruguay. – Greeting from the Old City of Montevideo! – Karen
Latin America is associated with Catholicism. As ever Uruguay is the outlier—with complete separation of church and state for over 100 years.
The very first woman to vote in Uruguay was a 90 year-old of African descent. She and others decided the fate of a small town in 1927.
Visitors to Uruguay may soon be able to buy cannabis. The motivation, says the govt, is to remove ‘inequality’ between tourists and citizens.
Der Spiegel ranked Uruguay’s pandemic response #11 in the world. So what have I been grateful for every day of the pandemic?
…and 9th friendliest in the world, says the Spartacus International Gay Guide. Yep, homosexuality has been legal here for EIGHTY years.
Uruguay has embraced renewable energy for economic reasons and ranks in the world’s top twenty green leaders, according to MIT.
Montevideo – the capital of the friendliest country in South America. And it’s Uruguay’s version of ‘Pride’–known as the Diversity March–this Friday!
Not only does Uruguay have Latin America’s first ‘earthship’ school, but soon it’ll have the first ecological bioconstruction hotel in historic Colonia.
When he became famous in the 1960s Alfredo Zitarrosa’s record sales rivalled The Beatles’ in Montevideo. He took Uruguayan folklore music and made it cool.
In 2013, the Uruguayan parliament voted unanimously (62-0) to turn Uruguayan waters into a protected area for whales and dolphins.
Anyone that knows Uruguayan politics will not be surprised at the seemingly audacious policy to legalise cannabis. It’s part of a long political tradition.
“Businesses welcome guidance around what’s appropriate and respectful.” Uruguay certified the first officially gay friendly market in Latin America.