Argentina has made immense strides in gay rights in recent years, outdoing North America and Europe to some extent. In July 2010, Argentina became the only country in Latin America, and one of few worldwide, with a national law legalizing same-sex marriage. Buenos Aires had already become the Latin American capital of gay tourism by 2003, when a law legalizing civil unions went into effect. Argentina remains at heart a Catholic country, and the majority of gays and lesbians outside of Buenos Aires live a "don't ask, don't tell" life. Buenos Aires, however, is an exception to this rule and even non-gay venues will go out of their way to express their gay-friendly nature. The neighborhoods of Barrio Norte and San Telmo are particularly gay and lesbian friendly and are home to the city's two main gay hotels, the Axel and El Lugar Gay. Numerous clubs, restaurants, and even tango salons cater to a gay and lesbian clientele. Be aware of a few rules of thumb in a city where close contact is normal. Women of all stripes may walk hand in hand, and men kiss each other hello. However, when two men hold hands, it means they are gay. Ongoing violence and discrimination against the transgendered is gradually being addressed.
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