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Most people who travel to Ecuador come to experience the variety of landscapes, climates, cultures, fauna and flora that this small country has to offer. Many tourists visiting Ecuador go to the amazing Galapagos Islands.

However the rest of Ecuador has a great deal to offer. About the size of the state of Colorado, Ecuador has the highest population density of any South American country and also has a high proportion of indigenous people with their unique cultures and languages.

Added to that, Ecuador offers a tropical coast-line with Guayaquil as the largest city in Ecuador; snow-capped volcanoes such as Cotopaxi (photo right) and Chimborazo with an altitude of approximately 6000m; highland market towns like Otavalo and Saquisili; the historic colonial town of Cuenca; Amazon rain-forest with its unique bio-diversity, and a capital city located practically on the Equator which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ecuador has undergone a remarkable transformation in the last few years. On 10th August 1998 the constitution of Ecuador was reformed to “recognise the equality of all before the law without discrimination against age, sex, ethnic orgin, colour, religion, political affiliation, economic position, sexual orientation, state of health, incapacity, or difference of any kind.”

These rights are possibly the most enlightened in South America and may be the envy of some of the more economically advanced countries in the world. Nevertheless eight years is a relatively short time to change attitudes.

Prior to this Ecuadorians could be arrested for offenses against public morals on any pretext like, for example, just being present in a gay bar. So, although the capital Quito has become a little more liberal in the last few years bear in mind that Ecuador generally still has a macho and conservative culture. Homosexuality continues to be viewed negatively so adjust your behavior accordingly and keep a low profile in public. Acceptance will only be achieved slowly and by not provoking reactionary elements.

Regrettably some some authorities and police in Ecuador haven’t yet got the message. On 2nd April 2002 Amnesty International issued a report entitled ‘Pride and Prejudice: Time to break the vicious circle of impunity for abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in which are documented cases of homophobic harassment, torture and ill-treatment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people, in the cities of Quito and Guayaquil.’

On the rest of these pages can be found my Gay Guide to having fun in Quito, Ecuador.

All night life in Quito has suffered a serious set-back since August 2001. By decree of the mayor all bars must close at 2200h Monday-Thursday and 24h00 Friday-Saturday, and discos must close at 2400h Monday to Thursday and 0100h Friday and Saturday. Business owners are dismayed by this decree and hope to persuade the authorities to revert to the former regulations. Some business owners are now ignoring these hours but if you are caught in a police raid you must have your passport or cedula.

The gay scene is relatively quiet from Sunday to Thursday but Friday and Saturday are the nights when everything takes off. Most of the gay places are in or near the districts of Mariscal and Colon in Quito new town. However these areas are definitely not safe at night so take a taxi every time. The doormen at the gay places are very helpful so take their advice.

The gay scene in Quito city (photo left) is free of dress-code, uniforms, and clones; dress for all occasions and places is casual light-weight summer wear (although you will need a light sweater or casual jacket in the cool evenings). There is no age-ism. There is also a lack of attitude. You will find Quiteños very friendly, interested in foreigners (gringos), and a fair proportion speak some English. It does help to be able to speak some Spanish, but not speaking Spanish isn’t a bar to having a good time.

Do I have to tell you where the best language classroom is? If you want some information about the gay scene in other cities outside Quito go to the Gay Links page where you can find links to some gay Ecuador websites in Spanish.

Story from: Queercity Ecuador

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