Although the Inca nation flag looks remarkably similar to the gay rainbow flag, Peru, a predominantly Catholic and socially conservative country, could not be considered among the world’s most progressive in terms of societal freedoms for gays and lesbians. It remains a male-dominated, macho society where homosexuality is considered deviant. Across Peru, there is still considerable prejudice exhibited toward gays and lesbians who are out, or men—be they straight or gay—who are thought to be effeminate. The word maricón is, sadly, a commonly used derogatory term for homosexuals. In the larger cities, especially Lima and Cusco, there are a number of establishments—bars, discos, inns, and restaurants—that are either gay-friendly or predominantly gay. Outside those areas, and in the small towns and villages of rural Peru, openly gay behavior is unlikely to be tolerated by the general population.
There are a number of helpful websites for gay and lesbian travelers to Peru. Gay Peru (www.gayperu.pe) includes gay-oriented package tours, news items, and nightclubs and hotels (with versions in both English and Spanish). Purple Roofs (www.purpleroofs.com/southamerica/peru.html) has a decent listing of gay and lesbian lodgings, restaurants, and nightclubs throughout Peru. If you’re planning to visit from the U.S., the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA; www.iglta.org; tel. 800/448-8550 or 954/630-1637) is the trade association for the gay and lesbian travel industry, and offers an online directory of gay- and lesbian-friendly travel businesses. Many agencies offer tours and travel itineraries specifically for gay and lesbian travelers. Now, Voyager (www.nowvoyager.com; tel. 800/255-6951) is a well-known San Francisco–based gay-owned and operated travel service.
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.