er protected species.
Before you visit, however, be warned: Costa Rica is an extremely progressive country when it comes to the environment, and prohibits hunting for sport.
It’s clear that Costa Rica is a lovely tropical gem, with plentiful opportunity for relaxation and rainforest adventure. But does that tropical canopy mask a tense relationship with the LGBT community? The answer is largely no. Longstanding laws protecting same-gender sex, anti-discrimination laws and recognition of some same-sex couples place Costa Rica head and shoulders above its Central American neighbors in terms of LGBT rights. But there is still a long way to go: A recent bill to legal- ize same-sex marriage has stalled after religious lawmakers tacked on hundreds of amendments, The Tico Times, an English-language daily online newspaper, reported in April.
Central America remains a region steeped in the Latin attitude of “machismo” – a hypermasculine cultural relic that strictly governs gender behaviors. Brownlee said it’s toned down in Costa Rica, but the country has seen its fair share of high-profile homophobia, including a widely publicized 1990 incident where government officials barred suspected lesbians from entering the country.
Two decades later, attitudes have warmed considerably, with openly gay and lesbian destinations scattered across the country and even a June Pride celebration.
“When people ask me about what Costa Ricans think about LGBT community, I always tell them that ‘Costa Ricans find gays & lesbians mildly amusing!’” said Brownlee, who also operates a handful of gay-friendly touring companies.
Travelers can bed down at the gay-owned Hotel Villa Roca, where boys frolic in an infinity pool as the sun sets over the Manuel Antonio National Park in the distance.
At San Jose’s Colours Oasis Resort, LGBT people can enjoy deluxe accommodations situated closely to some of the country’s most popular nightclubs, bars and gay bathhouses. More active travelers can schedule a tour with Gecko Trail, an LGBT-friendly touring company that sells multi-city treks.
All in all, Costa Rica has a little ways to go before it’s the perfect place for the LGBT expat. But for now, when it comes to week-long, rainbow-soaked getaways, it’s a sure bet.
May 13, 2016