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LGBTQ+ History in Latin America

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Latin America has a technicolor history of advocacy, social mobilization, and legislative change in the LGBTQ+ community. In 2010, the Argentine LGBT+ Federation propelled the gay rights movement in Argentina, which became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. Argentina also has some of the most progressive transgender rights laws in the world. A 2012 ruling allows transgender Argentinians to claim their gender on government documents without any psychiatric services or transition surgeries first. In response to these successes, a movement surged through Latin America, and Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and 18 Mexican states legalized same-sex marriage. Finally, on May 26, 2020, Costa Rica made history by becoming the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage.

"The Human Rights Watch identifies Latin America as a leader in LGBTQ+ rights."

While Catholicism is central to Latin American culture, the church’s influence on social policy is nothing like that of the United States. In Mexico, for instance, clerics can officiate weddings but are not empowered to legally marry couples. The countries colonized by the Spanish or Portuguese never fully criminalized homosexuality like their British colonial counterparts. Therefore, the Human Rights Watch identifies Latin America as a leader in LGBTQ+ rights. Yet, there is much more to be done.

Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua are among the lowest scoring countries in LGBTQ+ rights by human rights watch groups. A 2019 study co-led by Colombia Diversa, a non-profit organization that recognizes and defends the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens in Colombia, found that 4 LGBTQ+ people are murdered everyday in Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s time to change this reality.

What can we do?

Global Resources

  • OutRight Action International

  • “SinViolencia LGBTI”

  • Colombia Diversa


  • TRANSSA - Trans Siempre Amigas

US-Based Resources

  • Latino Equality Alliance

  • Allgo

  • Audre Lorde Project

  • El/La Para TransLatinas

  • QLatinx

At Project Olas, we have dedicated ourselves to amplifying Latinx LGBTQ+ voices and stories during Olas Pride Week. Our partner organization in Guatemala City, Creamos, is working to spread awareness and resources regarding the Latinx LGBTQ+ experience. Through hosting workshops and spreading educational videos, Creamos opens the Olas moms’ eyes to the experiences of LGBTQ+ members in their own community. Throughout the year, Creamos educates the Olas moms regarding LGBTQ+ rights and history. Last year, a number of the moms attended the Pride Parade in Guatemala City, as pictured below.

Check out our Facebook and Instagram to find more information. Through engaging with Latinx LGBTQ+ stories, podcasts, novels, and other resources, together we can amplify LGBTQ+ voices -- both at home and in Guatemala City.



  • “Latin America has become an unlikely leader in LGBT rights” -- Quartz

  • “How Latin Culture Got More Gay” -- The New York Times

  • “LGBT+ murders at 'alarming' levels in Latin America - study” -- Reuters

  • “'Terrorized at home', Central America's LGBT people to flee for their lives: report” -- Reuters

  • Colombia Diversa

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