Over the past decade, the enhancement of gay rights in Colombia has meant that the once underground LGBT scene has come out of the shadows and is now openly visited and advertised
While South America has been a burgeoning gay destination for several decades, most visitors have flocked to Brazil, Argentina and Peru. However, in recent years Colombia has established itself as a strong contender in the competitive market. It has finally managed to shake off its bad boy image and is now one of the most visited destinations in the region.
A report in 2013 found that 300,000 LGBT travellers visit Colombia every year – and the number has been steadily increasing ever since. Last year it was voted as the best emerging LGBT destination by FITUR – a well-respected tourism authority.
The flourish in tourism activity is in no small part due to gay rights in Colombia supporting and enhancing the lives of the local community. For a decade now, LGBT citizens have had the same rights as heterosexual people and in 2016 the country legalized same-sex marriage. There is also discrimination protection in place – though this is specifically for sexual orientation, rather than for gender identity.
While the country is far from perfect, Colombia has made huge strides and is fast becoming equal to even the most progressive countries when it comes to legal protection, even if social attitudes have yet to catch up in the more rural and ostensibly conservative areas.
In an odd but charming quirk of the Colombian system, three men became the first in the world to join in a union – legally recognised by the state.
Over the past decade, the enhancement of gay rights in Colombia has meant that the once underground LGBT scene has come out of the shadows and is now openly visited and advertised – particularly in the large cities such as Bogota and Medellin, and Pride festivals are LGBT rights protests are now held openly on a regular basis.
It would be churlish not to acknowledge the challenges still facing the LGBT community in Colombia but its pace of progression certainly seems to be accelerating. With ever-increasing equal rights, an open and accepting public and plenty of gay venues to visit, Colombia is certainly on the way up and likely to become a firm favourite with the LGBT community in the coming years.