My friend Lisa Goldapple put it best when she once said ‘Any city that has a huge phallus (sorry, Obelisk), a giant opening tulip and a Pink House as its icons must be in touch with its sexuality, right?’
Well, when you put it that way…yes. And Argentina not only is considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in Latin America, but it is getting noticed worldwide for its progressive and unapologetic legislation it recently passed to ensure LGBT rights.
Back in 2010, Argentina passed a law making same-sex marriage legal, making it only the tenth nation in the world to do so. This law also gave homosexuals full rights to adopt. Since then, the law has been expanded to even allow foreigners to legally marry in Argentina. Not too bad for a country in which an estimated 70-90% of its population consider themselves to be Roman Catholic, huh?
To further lead the rest of the world into the 21st century, in May 2012 Senators unanimously approved the Gender Identity Law. This progressive law grants adults sex-change surgery and hormone therapy under their private OR public health care plan. Yes, you read that right. Not only does Argentina offer free public health care, which is impressive enough for those of us from the US, but it will cover the cost of a sex change. Makes LGBT rights, where they do exist in the rest of the world, seem fairly medieval.
This new law also allows people to specify how their gender is listed at the civil registry, to reflect how they see themselves. They will not have to get approval from doctors or judges, nor will they have to undergo physical changes beforehand. If they truly consider themselves to be more male than female, then as male they will be listed.
While overall Argentina is incredibly gay-friendly, it should be noted that Buenos Aires and the other large cities are much more liberal and open-minded than some of the small rural areas. In Buenos Aires you may see two men walking down the street hand in hand, or to women sharing a lingering kiss, and really they will not be given much of a second glance. But unless you are at some of the more notably wild gay clubs and bars, the gay tone throughout the country is fairly understated and not at all Rio-during-Carnaval, in-your-face homosexuality.
If gay-friendly is one of the qualities that you are looking for in an expat destination, Argentina, especially Buenos Aires, should be a huge contender on your list.
If you go, here are some resources to help you out:
Fabulous Weddings: www.fabulousweddings.com.ar. This is THE go-to wedding planner if you are planning to get hitched in style in Argentina. The name says it all.
Pink Point: This is a great place for info. Located in Galeria Luxor at Lavalle 669, this place is staffed by knowledgeable, multilingual employees who can give you maps, brochures, and all of the info on gay Buenos Aires that you could ever want. http://pinkpointbuenosaires.com/wordpress/
Amerika: Some say that this is the most popular gay club in Argentina. Large and loud, the music is just as varied as the clientele. It’s located at Gascon 1040.
Pride Café: With two locations (Humbolt 1897 and Balcarce 869), this is a nice and tranquil daytime location to meet up or grab a snack.
Flux: In upscale Recoleta (at Alvear 890), this place is popular with the expats. It is a good place to get a cocktail early in the night, and is a good mix between sophisticated and relaxed. The owner is British and is a great contact for city info. http://fluxbarbuenosaires.blogspot.com/
Axel Hotel: South America’s first all-gay luxury hotel, it’s located at Venezuela 649. The Sunday Pool Party is legendary. http://www.axelhotels.com/buenosaires/
Oasis Clubhouse: Not an all-gay establishment by any stretch of the imagination, but incredibly gay friendly. At the city’s only private members club, sit poolside and relax amongst ‘the beautiful people’. http://oasiscollections.com/the-clubhouse. Oasis Collections also offers luxury apartment rentals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Bayres Gay Bed and Breakfast: A 6 room bed and breakfast in Palermo Viejo. www.bayresbnb.com
Royal Family:The first LGBT language school in Latin America, and they also run city tours.
Gay Pride Parade: This takes place in Buenos Aires the first Saturday of every November.
The Gay Guide: A complete Buenos Aires gay travel site with clubs, tours, businesses, and an events calendar. http://www.thegayguide.com.ar
I would love to hear your thoughts about how gay-friendly (or not) your expat city is. Does this influence whether or not you feel comfortable living there? Drop me a comment here, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with me on Twitter @LatinAmerExpats, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Latin-America-Expats/117844228230144.