The Republic of Guatemala in Central America once housed a large part of the Mayan civilization. The country name Guatemala means “land of many trees” which is quite accurate until this day. The country has a huge range of natural and cultural treasures. Keep reading to find out if Guatemala is LGBT friendly and read about our own experience as lesbian travelers in Guatemala!
Guatemala is known for its cute colonial cities and Mayan ruins. The most visited ruins are Tikal, but there are so many other Mayan sites that are less crowded. Some of the Guatemalan ruins are almost tourist-free and wandering around these deserted places take you back in time without the hordes of people taking away the magic. Yaxha ruins are a great example of this.
The most visited colonial town is Antigua, which is used by tourists as a hub to discover the country and to learn Spanish. Guatemala offers some of the most beautiful lakes in the world, including Lake Atitlan, Lake Izabal, and Lake Peten Itza. Guatemala is also a great place to visit Mayan ruins like Yaxha or Tikal. We recommend the amazing pools of Semuc Champey as well. We wrote down quite a few reasons to visit Guatemala!
Guatemala LGBT Rights
Private homosexuality is legal in Guatemala. Commercial homosexuality is not! If you’re 18 or older, you’re allowed to have a homosexual relationship. But don’t cheer just yet. Despite being legal since 1871, homosexuality is still frowned upon by locals. Some touristic cities, like Antigua, are more open-minded towards tourists. But when we talked to a local boy, he knew he would be punished severely for being gay. There is still a long way to go.
Domestic partnership or civil union for same-sex couples are not legally recognized.
Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry each other in Guatemala.
Any form of adoption by same-sex couples is illegal in Guatemala, whether it is the adoption of the child of your partner or not.
Change Legal Gender
Changing your legal gender is not possible in Guatemala. Changing your legal name is possible since 2016. Cross-dressing is still seen as a sign of immorality by a large amount of people.
Guatemala LGBT Safety
Guatemala has no laws to protect LGBT against discrimination and harassment. Discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is common in health care, employment, education, and housing. Some establishments use their right to deny LGBT access to their premises. We never witnessed anything like this happen, but in rural areas, you might run into problems.
Hate crimes, harassment, and even targeted killings still happen frequently in Guatemala. These crimes are usually directed to locals rather than tourists, but keep in mind that these things happen and that people can target you for being gay. Society has a negative attitude towards LGBT. Be careful with public display of affection and keep a low profile.
Most tourist towns and areas that are frequently visited by tourists have a more relaxed attitude towards LGBT and you are likely to be safe. A lot of effort has been made to change laws and protect LGBT against discrimination. As for 2017, none of these laws have made it through.
Unfortunately, hate crimes can occur at any place and any time! Public display of affection can always trigger people to respond in a negative way. Try to be cautious and aware of your surroundings.