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Although homosexuality is not technically legal in the D.R., a staunchly Catholic country, it is more prevalent in the D.R. than anywhere else in the Caribbean, with the possible exception of Cuba, where many young men and women have turned to prostitution, especially in Havana. Hundreds of men are bisexual in the D.R., and many young men are available on a "gay-for-pay" basis, even though they may have a wife and children waiting for them at home. Sex tourism, even that involving minors, is on the rise in the D.R. and has even made headlines in the New York Times.

There isn't much of a gay bar scene outside of Santo Domingo, but cruising is evident everywhere, especially in the regular bars, on the beaches, and along the various malecón (seafront) promenades at night.

Nearly all D.R. hotels welcome gay and lesbian clients. Same-sex couples seeking to share a room together should encounter no problem anywhere in the D.R. Discretion, however, is the word. Holding hands or kissing in public will be frowned upon and may invite at least verbal abuse, and dozens of cases of gay bashing are reported yearly.

Since there are no local agencies offering information or services to gay and lesbian travelers contemplating a holiday in the D.R., here are some general groups to contact for more information.

Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Above and Beyond Tours (tel. 800/397-2681; www.aboveandbeyondtoursllc.com) are gay Australian tour specialists. San Francisco-based Now, Voyager (tel. 800/255-6951; www.nowvoyager.com) offers worldwide trips and cruises, and Olivia Cruises & Resorts (tel. 800/631-6277; www.olivia.com) offers lesbian cruises and resort vacations.

The Canadian website gaytravel.com offers ideas and advice for gay travel all over the world.

The following travel guides are available at many bookstores, or you can order them from any online bookseller: Spartacus International Gay Guide, 35th Edition (Bruno Gmünder Verlag; www.spartacusworld.com/gayguide) and Odysseus: The International Gay Travel Planner, 17th Edition; and the Damron guides (www.damron.com), with separate, annual books for gay men and lesbians.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.