If you are gay, and plan to travel in and around Peru, you may not really encounter a gay paradise. Peru is still a deeply Catholic country that is bound by negative attitudes towards homosexuality. However, Peru is not exactly in Eastern Europe or in certain other parts of the world where gay people are targeted and abused both verbally and physically.
Instead, Peru can be a surprisingly welcoming country for LGBT people, as long as they don’t end up meeting the wrong kind of people (who exist everywhere). Peru’s happening nightclubs, bars and theaters are quite gay friendly, and the gay scene in Lima is particularly exciting. Many bed and breakfast places specially cater to LGBT people and it is never difficult to be invited to local gay parties on weekends.
If you want to experience Peruvian history, there is again a queer element to it. Incas did practice homosexuality (just like every community on earth always has) and were surprisingly tolerant towards homosexual behaviors. the advent of Catholicism changed perceptions towards LGBT people and Peru lost some of its gay-friendliness which existed prior to the arrival of Europeans. However, much like elsewhere in Latin America, do not be surprised to see men holding each other’s hands or grabbing each other’s waists. Such affectionate behavior is very common across Peru and does not necessarily mean they are gay.
Instead, it is perfectly acceptable in certain societies like Latin America for men to hug, hold hands and be more ‘physical’ than their North American counterparts. This has a positive aspect when it comes to gay tourism in Peru. You and your boyfriend may not really stand out even if you walk holding each other’s hands. No one will know that you are a gay couple because it is perfectly ‘ok’ in Peru for men to be affectionate in public.
However, we need to remember that homophobia exists in Peru and it was only in 2009 that gays were allowed to serve in the military. A bill that was designed to help gay men register civil unions died and it has not been brought ever since. Peru’s LGBT activism is active, so are gay themed tours. There is a lot for a single gay man or a couple to do in Peru. Only, it is not Tel Aviv or San Francisco, but it isn’t Russia or the Middle East either.