LGBT friendly?

GA Voice - - Summer Travel -

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

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