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Rio 2016: A Primer On Homophobia, Queer Rights And Gay Sex In Rio

This post is also available in: Portuguese

Visiting Rio? Don’t forget to download our gay guide to the Rio Olympics!

In addition to its stunning natural beauty — its golden beaches, green mountains, and blue oceans — Brazil is also well-known for its friendly, free-spirited citizens, its non-stop samba beat, plentiful street foods and progressive attitudes towards gay people, but that doesn’t mean it’s a complete utopia.

Homosexuality has been legal in Brazil since 1830. Since 1969, gays have been able to serve in its military. Brazil was one of the first countries to provide free antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people, the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex unions in immigration cases, and was also among the first to allow same-sex couples to adopt. Transgender people often take center stage during Rio’s Carnavale celebrations and the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade is the world’s largest Pride event.

Since Brazil’s 2013 legalization of same-sex marriage, there has been a recent increase in conservative Christian and machismo-fueled homophobia. In fact, a local queer rights group, Grupo Gay da Bahia, says that nearly 1,600 LGBTQ people have died in queer-bashings in the last four and half years, that’s nearly one queer person per day. Some queers won’t report instances of anti-gay violence over fear of police harassment and discrimination.

Rio has a big selection of bathhouses and saunas, and regular tourists are familiar with the reality of Brazil’s legalized sex work, but warn new travelers not to be too eager to hop into bed with a hot Brazilian guy. There have been stories of hot dudes demanding money after sex and threatening to beat anyone up who doesn’t pay. There have also been reports of sexual partners who steal or who arrange for their hook-ups to get robbed on the streets, only to disappear soon afterwards.

We offer these are warnings to the wise, but the city of Rio De Janeiro remains very welcoming to gay tourists. Known as the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), its residents (cariocas) are quick to make friends and start conversations. The city itself offers days of exploration around its colonial streets, leaf-shaded plazas, and gorgeous beaches and the nightlife can easily keep you up until sunrise.

Many gay people in Rio use the gay social app Hornet and the gay travel app Vespa as way to meet people and find their way around. They’re a great way to talk with locals and visitors, get recommendations and make some new friends. Use your street smarts, take your time when getting acquainted with new people, and you’ll have a wonderful time!

(image via Edward Zulawski)