Gay Peru News & Reports 2000-10

Also see:
Peru organization for promotion of Human Sexual Rights:

1 Inca flag and gay pride clash in Peruvian Andes 8/00

2 Peruvians march in first gay pride parade 7/02

3 Catholic University in Peru angers students 9/03

4 Peru prime minister fired over rumors 12/03

4a Peru OKs gay sex in the military 11/04

5 The First Rainbow Nation–Peru 3/05 (Travel story from Passport Magazine)

(Successful Supportive Day With Transvestite Companions–in Spanish)

7 Police Attack Transvestite in Lima 3/06

8 New Incidents of Police Brutality Against Lesbians 10/06

9 New Anti-Gay Crackdown in Peru 10/06

10 Gay Couple Tie the Knot in Peru’s First Same-Sex Wedding 12/06

11 ILGA’s conference in Latin America and Caribbean, Lima 20–23 September ’07

12 Strong Earthquake Strikes Peru, Over Five Hundred Dead 8/07 (3 stories)

13 Peru urged to protect LGBT youth 12/07

14 New Populations at High Risk of HIV/STIs in Low-income, Urban Coast 12/07

15 Peru bans gays from joining the police 5/09

16 Latin American LGBTs protest on Valentine’s Day 2/10

17 Peru Latest Latin American Country To Consider Gay Unions 7/10

18 Journalist and Activist Found Dead 10/10

19 Circumcision may not curb gay HIV transmission 12/10

20 Call on Peruvian Authorities for Justice in Murder Gay Activist 12/10

August 15, 2000 – Reuters

Inca flag and gay pride clash in Peruvian Andes

Lima – "Any resemblance to gay pride is unintentional.”
The deeply Roman Catholic and conservative Peruvians living in the former capital of the Inca Empire would probably not complain if that disclaimer was engraved in stone above the arrivals terminal of their airport nestled high in the Andes. Cusco’s mainly Indian people are a proud lot, still speaking the language of the Incas whose history of lost cities, gold treasures and heroic battles attract millions of dollars in much needed tourism to this poor South American nation.

But many residents are red-faced over reports that tourists who flock to the town are mistaking their much-loved Inca flag — a feast of rainbow colors — for the internationally known banner that flies high in gay pride marches and festivals. So much so that municipal authorities, who normally slap a fine on inhabitants who forget to fly the banner from their homes, are debating whether to change the flag’s design. "Many foreign visitors come her and feel a little confused at our flag. They stare at it, wondering,” said Mayor Carlos Valencia, whose municipal building flies the flag year round.

In June and July — the tourist high season — Cusco residents raise the banner from their houses to mark both national independence holidays and traditional Inca religious ”Sun God” celebrations. Even the 17th century Roman Catholic cathedral, built by conquering Spaniards over old Inca foundations, must fly the flag or face an $83 fine.

Strikingly Similar To Gay Pride Flag
The flag, with seven horizontal strips of colors moving from red at the top through yellow and green in the middle to violet at the bottom, is striking similar to the gay pride flag. The only real difference is a light blue strip in the Cusco banner.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Cusco, a small town of red-tiled houses and cobbled streets nestled in an Andean valley that is the gateway to nearby Machu Picchu, an Inca citadel known as "The Lost City of the Incas.” Peruvians are immensely proud of Cusco, which was the capital of an empire spanning most of the Andes along South America’s western coast at the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century.

Tourists’ dollars are welcome in one of Peru’s poorest regions, but local inhabitants have long distrusted the influence of the modern nightclubs and bars on a town where sexual freedoms are frowned upon. Historians say the flag has little to do with the Incas. It surfaced in the early 1970s to mark a local fiesta and became Cusco’s official banner only in 1978, rooted in the Inca symbol of the rainbow as a link to the gods of water and lightning.

By coincidence, that same year U.S. artist Gilbert Baker designed a gay pride flag inspired by the colors of the rainbow that is now known as an emblem of the homosexual community.

Mistaken Identities
The two flags’ similarity was first noticed by Cusco municipal officials when a delegation of local artists traveled to France for a festival of native cultures. "The artists took the Cusco flag with them, and they were sent to march with the gays. This should not be repeated,” Gustavo Infantas, a member of the municipal council, said.

For Peru’s small gay rights group, the conflict is a symptom of homosexual issues being largely buried in a country still struggling to forge a modern democracy, and where civil rights often take second place to questions of where Peruvians will get their next plate of food. "It encourages homophobia,” Jose Ascencio, coordinator of Lima’s homosexual movement, told Reuters.

"It’s a stupidity of the people of Cusco,” said well-known economist Oscar Ugarteche, one of the few Peruvian public figures who is openly gay. "This flag is a way of attracting more tourists.” But some Peruvians are calling for a change in the flag, if for no reason but straightforward, free market common sense. "If the logo of Coca Cola was like Pepsi’s, one would have to be changed,” artist Sandra Gamarra told Somos magazine. "The flag is an icon and icons should not generate confusion.”

July 7, 2002 – Associated Press

Peruvians march in first gay pride parade

Lima, Peru – In conservative and predominantly Catholic Peru,Robby Bernaola decided to dress as a butterfly to march in the country’sfirst gay pride parade. "They usually brand us ‘goats’ or ‘butterflies,"’ said Bernaola,6-foot-2 inches (188 centimeters) in white mesh sequined wings and a skirtand top made of light blue stuffed animal fur with matching headband andpipe cleaner antennae. "I prefer to be a butterfly," the 16-year-old said. "This is achance to show the public that we are people, too."

But not everyone marching on Saturday was comfortable with coming toofar out in the open in one of Latin America’s more conservative,predominantly Roman Catholic capitals. Unlike in Paris, where the mayor ledan estimated 500,000 marchers on the same day, just a few hundred showed upfor Lima’s parade. Holding a placard that read "we want to be visible, but intolerancesuppresses us," one woman joined several dozen others in Spiderman andfeathered party masks that covered their faces down to the mouth.

"I am sure that if I marched without this mask, come Monday I would show up for work without a job," said Rosa, 33, who declined to give her last name for fear of persecution. Marching to pop tunes of Madonna and Cher, some carried banners calling for constitutional protection of Peru’s gays. "It’s noticeable that lots of people in the parade are scared and concerned," said Larry LaFontain, a professor of Puerto Rican and CaribbeanStudies at Rutgers University in the United States. "I have friends who are not openly gay and are uncomfortable with being here." LaFountain said he was surprised that several hundred did show up for the march.

September 19, 2002 – The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington, D.C.

Catholic University in Peru angers students by handing out pamphlet calling homosexuality an illness

by Lucien Chauvin
Lima, Peru –
Students are enraged at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru for distributing a pamphlet that says that homosexuality is an illness and can be cured.
The pamphlet ö titled "Sexual Identity: Is It Possible to Choose?" ö also says that in difficult cases, when a person refuses to change his or her sexual orientation, celibacy is the only healthy option.

The document was handed out to students as they arrived at the university this month. The pamphlet also questions gender theory, saying it has served as a tool "for the political manipulation of international organizations" and has little to do with women. In an introductory note, Salomón Lerner Febres, rector of the university, says the document was prepared at the request of the university’s chancellor, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, the archbishop of Lima.

The document has set off a firestorm of protest among students, who say the university is losing its independence to reactionary forces within the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic University Student Federation condemned the document, saying it violated "individual liberties and personal dignity." The federation demanded to know whether the document reflected official university policy and took the opportunity to question Cardinal Cipriani, publishing its own document, titled "Catholic University According to Cipriani," which questions his opinions on homosexuality, human rights, and the fight against government corruption.

Cardinal Cipriani has long been a controversial figure in Peru. He had a close relationship with Alberto Fujimori, the former president who was impeached two years ago after fleeing to Japan to escape a burgeoning corruption scandal.
The student federation says Cardinal Cipriani represents the most reactionary forces within the Catholic Church and "has expressed objectionable opinions throughout his public life, such as his disdain for human rights."

A spokesman for the rector’s office, who asked not be named, said the pamphlet was distributed at Cardinal Cipriani’s request and was a response to other documents published by the university’s counseling center. Those documents, which did not list homosexuality as an aberration, have been removed from the center. "This new document is certainly pre-Vatican II, but it was imposed. Worse than the content is the lack of dialogue between the university and the archbishop’s office," the spokesman said.

Two third-year students, Rodrigo Vecco and Bernardo Nieuwland, said the pamphlet is the latest in a series of steps to keep homosexuality out of the public eye at the university. The two men founded a gay-student group, Parenthesis Collective, a few months back, but have been refused permission by the university to use meeting rooms, hang posters, or post notices on student bulletin boards. Mr. Vecco said he does not think the university will expel them for being gay, but he does think administrators are watching them more closely than other students. While the university spokesman denied that the institution discriminates against homosexuals, Mr. Nieuwland said that the administration has refused to answer written requests asking why the group cannot get permission for events.

December 17, 2003 –

Peru prime minister fired over rumors

by U.K.
The prime minister of Peru was fired last week after rumors regarding her sexuality reached the country’s Parliament and media. President Alejandro Toledo dismissed Beatriz Merino, the country’s first female prime minister, because he was worried the lesbian rumors would cast doubt over her political life.
But Merino claims the rumors were spread by a rival who wanted her out of office. "Eight weeks ago I was informed by several sources that people were preparing a series of attacks aiming to damage my personal reputation," Merino told reporters on Monday.

She refused to comment on the rumors directly, or her future career. Homosexuality, particularly lesbianism, is still taboo in Peru’s society, which holds strong ties with Catholicism and conservative values. Merino has denied she is a lesbian, but the very fact she is the center of such a scandal has reportedly led to Toledo losing faith in her abilities to manage the country. The president, who is set to choose a new prime minister in the coming weeks, also fired her complete cabinet.

November 22, 2004 – International News #552 by Rex Wockner

Peru OKs gay sex in the military

Peru’s Constitutional Court Nov. 11 overturned a law that prohibited gays in the military from having sex, the Agence France-Presse news wire reported. The army had banned same-sex relations on or off military bases under threat of imprisonment or expulsion. The court said the ban was "completely discriminatory" and unconstitutional.

March 2005 – Passport magazine

The First Rainbow Nation–Peru
(Travel story)

by Bill Strubbe
After a long climb up the stone walkway and a photo op with a couple of llamas, I lay back on the lush grass of a stone terrace to take in all this beauty. Moment to moment the stunning view is an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of clouds and light; veils of mist envelop the jutting peaks and then, at next glance, brilliant sunlight breaks through and dapples the verdant slopes. This magical and mystical place seems almost alive. I’ve traveled the world over, and Machu Picchu ranks tops on my list among the most spiritual and amazing places. If one were to travel to Peru only to spend a day or two in this heaven of the Incas it would be worth all the time, effort, and money. Of course, no one would be so foolish to come just for that as Lima, Cusco, and the rest of Peru offer enough natural beauty, history, and culture to keep a traveler busy for a week or two.

CITY OF KINGS: LIMA One of the great pluses of traveling to South America is the minimal time zone change. New York is on the same time meridian as Lima; California a mere three hours off, and that is a lag I can live with. Waking up in Lima that first morning I was fresh and perky, ready to embark on a city tour with Abercrombie & Kent’s top guide, Juan Lazo. First stop was the Plaza de Armas, the center of this Spanish Colonial outpost. The original city (La Ciudad de [os Reyes or "The City of Kings") was founded on January 5, 1535, the eve of the Epiphany of the Magi by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Though none of the original buildings remain, the oldest element is the central bronze fountain dating from 1650. The balconied facade of the Archbishop’s palace to the left of the Cathedral is an exquisite example of one of Lima’s distinctive architectural features. The latticed balconies carved from wood are of Moorish design influence, and many of the old buildings boasted of them.

One can’t help but notice the huge rainbow flag waving in the breeze above the Governor’s Palace across the plaza from the Cathedral. Juan explained that the rainbow was the symbol of the Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca Empire. We snapped the obligatory picture of the handsomely uniformed guard in front of the palace (Changing of the guard is at noon). Next site was the San Francisco Church and Monastery, built in 1687, and reconstructed after earthquakes in 1746 and 1970. While its two-tier cloister, vast library, and collection of fine paintings and frescoes are impressive, it’s the catacombs that really capture the imagination. Discovered in 1943, an estimated 70,000 bodies were laid to rest in the brick and mortar crypts. If you’re squeamish, bones and skulls abound, and in one .morbid ossuary display, hundreds of bones and skulls have been artfully arranged in a circular pit.
As we traversed the city I noticed that nary a bit of garbage or trash blemished the streets. Granted, we stuck to thoroughfares and bypassed the numerous outlying slums, but when I later ventured out on my own through side streets, they too were remarkably clean.

Despite warnings about crime and pickpockets (there’s 10 percent unemployment and 53 percent underemployment) both times that day when I left my wallet in a craft stall and then in a store, someone found me among the crowd to return it. There are numerous churches and museums to visit, so pick judiciously. We skipped the controversial Gold Museum (apparently some artifacts are replicas). Instead we visited the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum which, besides plenty of gold to dazzle and lush fabrics created from feathers, contains the most fascinating collection of ceramic figurines from the Chimu (black clay) and Moche (red clay) civilization that preceded the Incas. The glass display cases are crammed with thousands of these hollow vessels depicting every conceivable aspect of daily life; animals, plants, miniature homes, farming and cooking implements, pots of cooked dishes, and people of every sort; slaves, healers, children, warriors, and people with deformities and illnesses.

Most remarkable is that every face is distinctive-one laughing, one sad, one angry, another with woeful eyes-as though each were modeled after a particular individual. The exact purpose of the vessels is unclear, but it’s suspected they might have contained chicha and coca leaves for making ritual offerings to Pacha Mama, Mother Earth. Across the garden, we were led to the XXX-rated exhibit: a collection of pre-Columbian ceramics explicitly depicting just about every conceivable sexual practice known to humankind: standard missionary positions and doggie style, doing it upside down, chummy three-ways, fellatio and cunnilingus, even acts with animals.

One of Abercrombie & Kent’s special touches are arrangements made to visit private homes. Our second evening we were welcomed at Casa Garcia-Alvarado by owner Mrs. Ana Maria Garcia whose ancestors are traced to the colonial period. When this impressive home was built in 1912 (remodeled in 1932) Lima’s upper class had begun moving away it fom the old downtown to Miraflores, the first residential district. Ana Maria, whose aristocratic manner belies a formal old-world upbringing, began the tour in the Grand Salon, the centerpiece a magnificently carved wooden fireplace decorated with Limoges, Severes, and antique Dresden porcelain.
Ana Maria recalled that until the 1950’s, as was the old Lima custom, the Grand Salon was open on Wednesdays between 4 and 6 for mends to drop in for an English high tea.

The tour moved through the Music Room and Portrait Gallery, into the Stained Glass Parlor, done in the style of Louis xv. Wherever one’s gaze settled there was a Tiffany lamp, Lalique crystal, a Venetian mirror, or a lovely silver tea set Tom Camusso, one of Peru’s most famous silverworks. We trailed though the peculiarly interconnected bedrooms, and then out to the terrace and grand courtyard garden decorated with exquisite tiles from the Ramos Rejano factory in Seville.

That evening for dinner we enjoyed a five-course meal at an elegant mahogany table with full silver and crystal service. While the food was not remarkable, Ana Maria regaled us with memories and tales of her family, childhood, and travels across the globe. By evening’s end I felt I’d encountered a living piece of Peru’s upper class history. When venturing out on your own for dinner you may want to try EI Senorio de Sulco, which is considered by many to be the best restaurant in Miraflores. Sample their traditional Peruvian dishes like sopa a la Criolla, noodle soup with beef, egg, and veggies; palta a la Reyna, avocado stuffed with chicken salad; and lomo saltada, chopped steak fried with onions, tomatoes, and potatoes.

One of the most romantic places to enjoy seafood in Lima is at La Rosa Nautica at the end of the pier in Miraflores. Dine on lobster and shrimp while watching the surfers in the distance. A la carte meals get pricey, but the set menus, including a Pisco Sour and wine, are affordable.

My home away from home was Miraflores Park Hotel, recently bought and upgraded by Orient-Express Hotels, and located in Lima’s most fashionable commercial and residential area. The contemporary building, with marble and granite bathrooms and the latest internet connections, is surrounded by parkland and west rooms have exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean. When the ocean breezes were optimal, hang gliders soared like birds above the ocean cliffs. A couple mornings I took advantage of the modest swimming pool and gym atop the building. As do many of the local residents, in the evening I took a stroll along the cliff-top walkway to the bustling mall. It seemed all of Lima was there; families with multiple children, young couples in love, older folks, and young gay men who smiled when I passed. For those needing to watch the wallet, Hostal EI Patio is an economical option. This gay-friendly hotel, located in the heart of Miraflores with discos, bars, and shopping all within a short walk, offers kitchen privileges as well as suites with kitchenettes.

For a city of eight million people, Lima should have a booming gay scene, but is outdone by Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, and Santiago. Although attitudes have lightened up a bit, in this conservative Catholic and macho culture, homosexuality is still generally viewed in a dim light. Keeping a low profile in public is the wisest course of action. As in all Latin American cities, the nightlife doesn’t get swinging until after midnight, with early birds usually getting in free or at reduced rates. One of my nights in Lima happened to be a Saturday, so I hailed a taxi to check out a few gay night spots. I stopped in at La Sede in Miraflores, a very popular gay- and lesbian-friendly bar with a dance floor featuring a music mix of 80’s and Latino pop.

I was a bit early, but was assured that in an hour or two it would be packed. Just a few blocks up the street is the Oupen Sauna, a clean and well-maintained establishment with all basic amenities one would expect: two steam rooms, sauna, private rooms, a small gym, male masseurs, a cafeteria, and bar. Unlike in the USA it’s not a late night place; it opens at 2 P.M. and closes at 11 P.M., with Wednesday through Saturday after 6 P.M. the busiest. I took another cab (walking around Miraflores seemed safe enough, but for longer distances take cabs) to the Minotauro Club. The club is a former private residence with a slew of rooms offering varied activities. In addition to the dance floor and bar, there’s a quiet lounge for intimate conversation, a cafe, an outside patio, an internet room where guys busily clicked away, a porn video room, and a popular and busy dark room. Both of the hosts, Julio and Juan, speak English, and it seemed like an excellent place for a foreign visitor to hang out and meet a new mend. Apparently, but not surprising, there are no exclusively lesbian bars or social venues in Lima. The gay disco Avenida 13 offers a women only disco on Friday nights that is very popular. La Sede bar and the gay discos DownTown Vale Todo or La Cueva are happy to have the gals show up.

INCA Central: Cusco
Cusco was once the powerful capital of the Inca Empire and is the longest continually inhabited city in South America. When walking the streets, plainly visible are the mammoth Inca stone walls forming the foundations of more modern buildings. While several major earthquakes toppled these later constructions, the ingeniously built Inca walls remained unscathed. From the time Spaniard Pizarro conquered Cusco in 1533, until the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 and the development of modern tourism, Cusco remained a provincial backwater.

Today, however, Cusco is one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations and thousands of travelers from around the world converge here to experience the vestiges of the Inca empire in the form of the Quechua-speaking descendents of the Incas.
While numerous hotels and inns in Cusco offer some semblance of old-world charm and comfort, if you can afford it there’s only one great place to stay, the five star Monasterio Hotel. The 127-room hotel occupies a restored Spanish monastery built in 1592 on the site of the Inca Amaru Qhala Palace. Four original 16th-century cloisters surround the central courtyard whose centerpiece is a fountain shaded by a 400-year-old cedar tree. Though the last monks moved elsewhere in the 1960’s, 300 years of their presence still haunts the cloisters and recorded Gregorian chants waft through the hallways. Each uniquely configured room (greatly expanded former monks’ cells) seems to have been spectacularly made over by an ecclesiastical Fab Five: carved wooden chests, colonial antiques, lush fabrics, gilded mirrors, and hand-stenciled window frames.

I was in heaven when I opened my door and stepped out onto a small balcony overlooking a second inner cloister. Like myself, about 50 percent of visitors feel the deleterious effects of high altitude: shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and poor sleep. Coca leaf tea, available in the lobby, is beneficial in relieving high altitude sickness, and several times I took advantage of the "oxygen station" near the front desk. Hotel Monasterio is also the world’s first hotel to offer supplemental oxygen through a central air system. Raising the oxygen level in the rooms from 21 to 24 percent ensures a better night sleep, and more energy for the following day. In many of the city’s hotels, from budget to deluxe, you can expect periodic shortages of hot water, and rooms on the street side will be noisy. At the Hotel Libertador, however, a 16th-century mansion with Inca foundations surrounding a lovely courtyard, hot water and central heating is assured. The stunning lobby and sitting rooms are furnished with ornate colonial antique chandeliers, and paintings for travelers who appreciate their ar a more utilitarian setting than a museum.

The heart of Cusco is the lovely Plaza de Armas, the central square superimposed by the Spanish over the II Huacaypata that was twice as large and covered with sand. The large Cathedral is actually a co-joined complex of the churches constructed over the centuries. Inside is a whole universe unto itself with many highlights. Of special note is the crypt Containing the important Inca historian Garacilaso de la Vega; exquisitely carved choir opposite the silver altar; the large paint! of the 1650 earthquake; and numerous side chapels containing silver trolleys that haul the larger-than-life-size religious stat! during numerous annual feast days.

Though we missed out, by accounts they are brilliant displays of a synthesis of pagan a Catholic ritual and mayhem. Late in the afternoon we paid homage to the impressive ruins Sacsayhuaman (pronounced "sexy woman") in the hills overlooking the red-tiled roofs of Cusco and the lush countryside. A testimonial to the impressive Incan architectural skills, the three-tier zigzag walls of the fortress are constructed of massive stones (one weighing 300 tons!) fitted together so precisely that one is unable to insert a piece of paper in the cracks between the blocks. This ancient fortress was the site of the greatest battle between the Spanish a Incas in 1536. With the sun’s lengthening rays casting a rose glow, we also visited nearby Qenqo an Incan shrine thought to be dedicated to the Earth Mother. Beneath a huge boulder covered with carvings–including a zigzagging channel thought to have been used for the ritual sacrifice of blood –is a labyrinth leading to a mysterious cave with altars carved into the rock.

A minute’s walk up a cobbled street from my hotel is a bustling restaurant/bar called Moncondo. I ask to see the owner, Andre, and his mother smiles from the kitchen and tells me he is at the Fallen Angel, his new and even more fabulous homo offering to Cusco. The club, illuminated with a blue light, is catty-corner across the square from the Hotel Monasterio. Inside the decor is as hip and happening as any place in Europe or the USA. Young couples, both gay and straight, lounge on wrought iron day beds covered with velvet and satin pillows under brilliant murals. The tables are ingenious: illuminated, glass-covered, claw-foot bath tubs swimming. with fish. In the courtyard shimmers a huge and spectacular angel made of plexiglass and metal.

Back in the bar, I find Andre Zuniga hanging out with a couple of friends, both of whom are straight, but later had no qualms about being photographed for a gay magazine. Andre took a few minutes out of his evening to tell me his story. The oldest child of five, at age 15 and feeling constricted by a rigorous Catholic school, he ran away to Europe where he quickly discovered he was gay. Though he loved traveling the world, he eventually returned home to Cusco and did the unthinkable: he came out and essentially became the face for gays in town. After the initial shock of family and friends, they got over it. All his family works in the clubs, and he’s put all his siblings through school. Fallen Angel hosts huge annual bashes on Halloween and New Year’s, and guests must sport wings.

The next morning we board the bus for the beautiful Urubamba Valley (locally known as the Sacred Valley) about ten miles north of Cusco. We visit the fortress of Ollantaytambo, a formidable stone structure of massive terraces rising to the top of a peak, and the site of the Incas’ greatest victory against the Spanish during the wars of conquest. Constructed of rose-colored granite, this huge installation was once a thriving complex of baths, temples, and military barracks. Below the fortress lies a complete Incan town, also called Ollantaytambo, still inhabited and with its original architecture and layout preserved.

In Peru, you don’t have to GO shopping because shopping will find you; locals continually approach and press their wares upon you. When the train stops, women push goods through the windows and if you want something you toss the money out. The village of Pisac, known for its famous colorful market, is an excellent place to buy souvenirs. This bustling market attracts tourists from all over the world bartering for local sweaters, ponchos, wall hangings, jewelry, and goods. I couldn’t resist buying for my two nieces a couple of dolls dressed in brilliant Quechua fabrics carrying little llamas, pan-pipes, and babies of their own.

After an elegant buffet lunch at the Huayoccari Hacienda with its incredible view of the Sacred Valley, we stop at Seminario Ceramic Studios (corner of Zavala & Mariscal Castilla in Urubamba). The tranquil courtyard and building are as beautiful as the hand-crafted art and ceramic creations inside. Since 1980, Pablo and Marilu Behar have researched and employed techniques and designs from ancient Peruvian cultures. Unwilling to carry home one of the wonderful plates, bowls, or vases, I bought a small wooden box set with hand painted tiles, and a selection of loose tiles for my bathroom.

Heaven’s Gate: Machu Picchu
I entirely disapprove of rising before dawn, but since I was staying at a former monastery it seemed fitting that at the hour of prime (morning prayer to you novices) we were summoned from sleep for our journey to Machu Picchu aboard the newly inaugurated Orient Express Hiram Bingham. The train consists of two dining cars, a lounge car, and bar car with semi-open observation deck decorated in an elegant 1920’s Pullman-era style.

Passengers are offered a sumptuous brunch to enjoy while traveling across the spectacular scenery of mountain passes and river gorges.

Three and-a-half hours later we arrived at Aguas Calientes, the village at the base of Machu Picchu. Here we visited the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel with 30 lovely bungalows set amidst ten acres bejeweled with some 375 orchid varieties. At this altitude of about 9,000 feet, over 11,000 species grow in the region. There are huge, yellow ones with pendulous petals; a pink and orange variety which is the symbol of Machu Picchu; and the mosquito orchids, looking like tiny confections of crystallized sugar that are pollinated by wasps, and can only be fully appreciated through a magnifying glass.

We soon boarded a van for the treacherous switchback drive up the mountain to the Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel permitted near the entrance to Machu Picchu. Simple, comfortable, and eco10gicallymendly, the 31-room lodge is set amongst gardens overlooking the ruins, the magnificent surrounding peaks, and the Urubamba River in the valley far below. As Juan guided us along terraces, up steps, and through the remains of homes and temples, he explained that Machu Picchu, which was never discovered by the Spaniards, was only known to a few local Quechua farmers when American historian Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911 while searching for the lost city and last Inca stronghold of Vilcabamba.

Though knowledge of Machu Picchu remains sketchy, from the number of ceremonial sites and high quality stonework it was likely an important spiritual center to the Incas. Because of its remote locale and high elevation, the number of visitors is self-limiting and the site manages to retain an air of mystery and grandeur. Leveraging its unique setting near the ruins, as guests of the lodge our group was escorted into the ruins by Paccao, a local female Shaman (a healer), for a mystical nighttime visit. Caution is required to navigate the steep steps in moonlight, and we settled into one of the reconstructed thatch homes as the Shaman described some of the religious and spiritual beliefs of the Incas.

Following that, Paccao commenced an hour-long "payment to the earth ceremony," which is still practiced by the local people in hopes of a good harvest and prosperous life. The next morning we were on our own. I opted out of hoofing it up to the Inti Punku, or the Sun Gate Keyhole (more vigorous visitors hike the four-day trek to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail entering through the Sun Gate) and instead decided I’d attempt the 45-minute hike up the steep, but well-maintained trail to Huayna Picchu which offers a bird’s eye view of the ruins. Part way up, as the mist suddenly enveloped me I realized there was slim chance that I’d see anything once at the top. I retraced my steps and happily wandered the ruins imagining the lives of the priests, craftsmen, and servants who once inhabited this seemingly uninhabitable citadel. After a photo opportunity with a couple of llamas, I lay back on the lush grass of an upper stone terrace to take in the amazing magic of the place… and it seems the narration is back where I began, at one of the world’s must-sees for those who’ve seen it all.

When calling from the U.S., dial 011-51 before all numbers unless otherwise indicated.
GETTING THERE Abercrombie & Kent, Tel: 800-323-7308. Group travel and individual itineraries to Peru and around the world. A & K is renowned for their attention to detail, the finest guides, and special access to private homes.
Lan Chile Airlines, Tel: 866-LANCHILE. Lan Chile offers daily flights from Miami, New York, and Los Angeles to Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. Their Business Class is classy, and even Economy Class offers movies and video-on-demand. Frequent Flyer miles can be accumulated in American Airlines Aadvantage program.

Or you can book your own flights via websites such as Take good guidebook such as Lonely PLanet and go off on your own pace and interests.

Hostal EI Patio, Diez Canseco 341-A, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 444-2107. Double $35. Kitchen available for use by guests. Suites with kitchenette-$40.
Hotel Libertador, San Agustin 400, Cusco. Tel: 223-1961. $60 to $130.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Aguas Calientes. Tel: 220-803. $100 to $140.
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu. Tel: 421-1039. $300 and up.
Miraflores Park Hotel, Av. Malecon de la Reserva 1035, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 242-3000. Rooms $270 and up.
Hotel Monasterio, Calle Palacios 136, Cusco. Tel: 241-777. $240 and up.

Cebicheria Don Beta, Jose Galvez 667, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 446-9465.
L ‘Eau Vive, Ucayali 370, Lima. Tel: 427-5712.
La Rosa Nautica, Espignon No 4 Costa Verde, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 447-0149.
EI Senorio de Sulco, Malecon Cisneros 1470, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 441-0183.
Witches Garden, Carmen Bajo 169, San Bias, Cusco. Tel: (084) 24-2175.
Gay-owned restaurant serving Peruvian and International cuisine.

Gay Venues In Lima
Avenida 13, Manuel Segura 270, Lince (off block 15 of Av. Arequipa), Lima. Tel: 265-3694. Open daily. Women-only on Friday.
Banos 240, Jiron Tarma 240, Centro (located off block 15 of Jiron Washington), Lima. Tel: 332-4370. Sauna, open daily. There is a Finnish room, two Turkish rooms, bar, TV room, porno video room, eight private cabins, ‘and male masseurs. Clean and well-maintained, and has been completely refurbished over the last year. This sauna is the most active of the four in the city and the all-nighters on Saturday are very active.
Cueva, Av. Aviaci6n 2514, San Bona, Lima. Exclusively gay and lesbian. Open Thu. – Sat. from 11 P.M. This was originally the home of Lima’s first gay disco, Perseo. Friday and Saturday there’s a show at 3 A.M.
Downtown Vale Todo, Pasaje Los Pinos 160, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 444-6433 or 444-6436. Open Wed. – Sun. from 10:30 P.M. Mixed gay and lesbian. This most popular dance club in Lima attracts a mostly younger crowd, with go-go boys and a stripper at 3 A.M. There’s a cruise bar on the balcony overlooking the dance floor.
Kafe Kitsch, Av. Bolognesi 743, Barranco, Lima. Open Wed. – Sat. from 10:00 P.M. until very late. Gay-friendly. They play a nice selection of music, a mixture of 80’s pop, including some well known gay favorites, along with modern popular Latin music.
Minotauro Club, Manuel del Pi no 694, Santa Beatriz (off block 14 of Avenida Arequipap), Lima. Tel: 471-8141. Bar for gay men only, with dance floor, cafe, internet room, and dark room.
Oupen Sauna, Av. 28 de Julio 171, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 242-3094. Open Mon. – Sun., 2:00 P.M. -11 P.M. Wed. – Sat. after 6 P.M. are the most popular days. www.vermail.netloupensaunal
Sagitario, Av. Wilson 869, Centro. Lima. Tel: 4244383, or 933-9925. Exclusively gay. Open Mon.Sun. One of the oldest surviving gay discos in Lima center and is busy seven nights of the week. A cruise bar on the balcony overlooks the main dance floor.
La Sede, Av. 28 de Julio 441, Miraflores, Lima. Tel: 242-2462. Open Wed. – Sat. 10 P.M. until very late. Popular gay- and lesbian-friendly bar and dance club.
Splash, Pasaje Los Pinos 181, Miraflores, Lima. Mixed gay, lesbian, and transvestite. Open Thu.Sat. from 10:30 P.M. A good alternative if you prefer somewhere that is less crowded, has less smoke, and offers a different music mix.

Fallen Angel, Plazoleta Nazarenas 221, Cusco.
Tel: 258-184. The place to be in Cusco for GLBT travelers.
Macondo, Cuesta San Bias 571, Cusco. Tel: 229415. Gay-friendly cafe and bar. Artsy, funky, and friendly with good food in generous portions.
White Vinyl, Espaderos 135 (second floor), Cusco. Gay-friendly disco.

Websites – An extensive and glitzy website covering all the queer who, what, when, and where in Lima and throughout Peru.

21 June 2005 – From:"Boletín Diversidad"

(Successful Supportive Day With Travestis Companions)

¡ Porque el Orgullo Radikal no es un día, ni una marcha, sino un proceso de todos los días!
Lima 20 de junio (Raíz Diversidad Sexual).

El sábado 18 de junio por la noche mientras los autoproclamados “Líderes (leaders) del Movimiento LGTB” convocaban y desconvocaban marchas por el día del “Orgullo”, los voluntarios del Comité por la Liberación y la Diversidad Sexual nos empezábamos a juntar en la segunda cuadra de Quilca, con bastante frío, cuando parecía que nuestra propia actividad naufragaría dentro del mar de confusión existente, fue que vimos a Belissa Andía la actual secretaria de la Asociación de Lesbianas, Trans y Gays de América Latina y el Caribe (ILTGA-LAC), que gentilmente vino a solidarizarse, demostrando que las verdaderas líderes son aquellas que se relacionan directamente con sus bases.

Posteriormente, llegaron nuestros amigos del Grupo Juvenil Fénix trayendo el pan solidario. Todo eso nos animó y se empezó a preparar el café y mientras que todos levantábamos la ‘olla común’, la asistencia era cada vez mayor, allí sumábamos casi veinticinco personas, una pequeña marchita. No solamente éramos los siempre LGTB además se contaba la presencia del Ágora Popular, la Juventud Comunista de Patria Roja, la Juventud del PDD, la Coordinadora Otro Mundo es Posible, el Taller Libertario, Indymedia-Perú y la Federación de Estudiantes del Perú; es así que todos nos dirigimos a nuestro primer punto de encuentro: el conocido Cine Tauro.
Con nuestra olla común, LGTB’s y solidarios recorrimos los diversos puntos donde se concentran nuestros compañeros en estado de prostitución, donde oportunamente Belissa, Jorge y Eros conversaron directamente con ellos. La denuncia reiterada fue el maltrato y extorsión que sufren por parte del Serenazgo (Policía Municipal), incluso un compañero de Indymedia pudo filmar los moretones de una compañera trans agredida. Por ello, la jornada solidaria también fue de protesta y ‘de esa’ que cotidianamente se hace en las calles y que es más alta con los tacones y la minifalda.

¿ Y la represión azul?… Esta vez no se atrevió a intervenir ya que los disuadió ver más de treinta personas dispuestas a responder si era necesario. Sin dudas el momento cumbre fue en la Av. Uruguay, cuando entre nuestras compañeros trans, solidarios y curiosos llegamos a ser alrededor de cincuenta, allí el Serenazgo que siempre es muy valiente cuando son mayoría simplemente se limitaron a observarnos. Ya era medianoche y nuestras compañeros tenían que regresar a la ‘chamba’, nos despedimos de ellos y retornamos al famoso jirón Quilca donde improvisamos una pequeña concentración, unas palabritas, nuestras tradicionales arengas y la certeza que la Marcha del Orgullo no es un día sino un proceso de lucha constante contra toda forma de opresión.

¡Festivo y Combativo Avanza el Orgullo Radikal!
Comité por la Liberación y la Diversidad Sexual


Visita Nuestra Web:
Tres años por la Conquista de la Alegría, el Pan y la Belleza
Otros Mundos Son Posibles… Construyendo Democracia Radical

March 20, 2006 – Alert from International Gay and Lesbian Humna Rights Commission (New York)

Police Attack Transvestite in Lima

by Belissa Andía, Coordinator , Claveles Rojos (translated into English):
In the early hours of March 17, at around 3.30, a Serenazgo team was ‘combing out’ the Petit Thours Avenue, in Lima, when they spotted Sandra – a transvestite who usually hangs around the area. The team was made up of 6 officers, traveling in a double-decker van and accompanied by a National Police officer.

Sandra knew very well what it meant to be approached by a Serenazgo team and, instinctively, ran as fast as she could to Avenue Militar at Bartolome Herrera Street. There, the transphobic team intercepted her. The six men started beating her with sticks, shoving and kicking her around, and verbally attacking her. She was dragged by her hair, and her blouse and jeans were torn apart. Serenazgo officers took her purse, with the 80 Soles (24 US$) she had made during the night. They also wanted to take away her high-heeled shoes, but she resisted. The men shouted, “Let us take everything, do not resist, stop screaming!”

But Sandra was not willing to part from her shoes and the officers, feeling furious and frustrated before her resistance, stuck a knife blade into the back of her left thigh. The National Police officer watched the aggression unmoved, and his only intervention was to encourage the Serenazgo men to move forward with robbing Sandra.

Alejandra, who is Sandra’s neighbor, came to see us that night and told us about the incident. We went immediately to see Sandra and took her to the Lince Police Station. At first, the officer was reluctant to take a complaint. When he realized that we knew it was his duty to take it, he had no choice but to register a complaint of abuse against Lima’s Serenazgo and Luis Castañeda Lossio, head of the organization. At first, the officer argued that we had not come to the Police Station immediately after the aggression to register the complaint, that many hours had gone by, that Sandra did not have an ID, that we had to take the complaint to the Attorney’s Office, etc.

Concerned about her wound, Sandra took antibiotics on her own, without checking with a doctor. It would have been ideal for her to go to a hospital to have the tetanus vaccination applied, her wound cleaned and the entire procedure overseen by a qualified health professional. However, many transvestites do not go to hospitals because they are not treated properly there; many prefer to instead follow the advice of their friends.

We will continue following the case closely. Tomorrow, Sandra has to see the Police Doctor. Then she will testify for the inquiry, opened by the Lince Police Station, with regard to this flagrant violation of human rights. We have visited several districts in Lima City and everywhere we have heard complaints by transvestites against the Serenazgos– sometimes accompanied by National Police officers– who act like criminals despite being part of institutions dedicated to enforcing the law.

We will take this new case to the Ombudsman office, and it will lie there, together with many others that do not seem to disturb our authorities in the slightest. We expect more serious incidents to occur, but we believe that not even then will this problem be taken seriously.

This whole series of incidents reflects the State’s double standards. The institutions who claim to protect the order and public customs are in charge of doing the dirty work. They repress and, if possible, eliminate everything that challenges the fundamentalist beliefs of those in power. Those who never see their rights questioned refuse to accept that sexual diversity, in all its expressions– lesbians, gays, transvestites, transgenders, transsexuals, the intersexed, bisexuals– exists. It is these sexual minorities who are foolishly depraved of their fundamental human rights.
Belissa Andía, Coordinator , Claveles Rojos

October 26, 2006 – International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
"Paula Ettelbrick"

New Incidents of Police Brutality Against Lesbians

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is deeply concerned about recent arrests of members of the LGBT community by Peruvian law enforcement agents. IGLHRC joins Peruvian activists in denouncing abuses against people in gay bars and trans sex workers perpetrated by Serenazgo officers (a security body active in Lima, whose legal status is not yet clearly specified by law) back in December 2005 and March 2006. This time, the victims were lesbians in a Lince district bar.

On October 13, 2006, Serenazgo officers, together with troops of the tactical actions unit (SUAT), and of the National Police, raided the ‘Avenida 13’ bar, a place frequented by young lesbians. Reporters of different television channels accompanied the police and filmed the incident. Activists of Raiz Diversidad have requested a meeting with Lince town officials in connection with this, but they have not received an answer yet.

ACTION__IGLHRC joins Raiz Diversidad’s activists’ call for a letter-writing campaign to denounce this violence and demanding a stop to the intimidation and violence against lesbian, gay and transvestis in Lima.

October 31, 2006 – Doug Ireland

New Anti-Gay Crackdown in Peru

by Doug Ireland
A massive and violent October 13 police raid on a lesbian bar in Lima, Peru, signaled a stepped-up campaign of repression of gays, lesbians and the transgendered in advance of coming municipal elections in that nations’ capital.

Dozens of officers from the National Police and from the Serenazgo-a local auxiliary police paid by the municipality of Lima-arrived in a half-dozen pick-up trucks and numerous police cars, cordoned off Calle Manuel Segura in the Lince district, five minutes from downtown Lima, and engaged in a muscular raid on "Avenida 13," a bar frequented in large part by young lesbians. Anyone who did not have an identity card was arrested, and when many young lesbians-panicked by the violent police conduct-refused to leave the bar, they were dragged out and beaten.

After the detention en masse of the young women, police proceeded to the second floor of the building, where a gay bar, "68," frequented primarily by men, is located, raiding it as well in the same violent fashion.

The total number of arrests is not known with precision, but three huge police detention vans, each capable of holding 50 people, were parked near the raid site, and at least one of them was seen driving away crammed with prisoners.

Local gay activists attributed this latest police raid to Lima’s approaching city elections, in which candidates are "looking for an opportunity create a law and order image
for themselves to help their re-election," according to a statement by the LGBT group Raiz Diversidad Sexual (RDS, or Root of Sexual Diversity). The fact that reporters from more than one of Lima’s TV stations accompanied the police raid in order to film it lends credence to the thesis of a baldly political motivation for the crackdown.

The two bars that were raided are in a district represented by Cesar Gonzalez Arribasplata, a city council member who serves as the neighborhood’s mayor and is part of the governing APRA Party of Peruvian President Alan Garcia (right.)

"Whenever City Hall wants to conduct a moral cleansing of the neighborhoods, there are raids on the gay bars and discotheques of Lima," Victor Cortez, a 26-year-old sociologist and RDS activist, told Gay City News from Lima. "But it’s since the election in 2002 as mayor of Lima of Luis Castaneda Lossio (left), who belongs to the most conservative right-wing party, that things have gotten worse."

Lima’s mayor is seeking re-election this fall. Gay activist Cortez said, "Gays and lesbians can no longer walk freely in the center city and in its parks and squares. If a policeman suspects you of being homosexual by the way you walk or gesture, he’ll intimidate you with force and the use of police dogs, and often beat you."

"The transgendered and the drag queens are targets of particularly aggressive and violent police abuse," he added. "In the richer neighborhoods, where these poor girls are obliged to work to support themselves, there have been cases where they’ve been killed-last year one of these girls was killed and burned. And when there are mass detentions, they are frequently taken to far-away outlying areas, beaten, and dumped there. Things are even worse if one is of indigenous ethnicity. And in the rest of the city, it’s the same thing-the Serenazgo carry out mass detentions of gays and lesbians."

The Serenazgo are an auxiliary police under the direct control of the neighborhood mayors in each Lima district and, Cortez said, they are generally thugs recruited from private security services who receive no special police training. "The Serenazgo are supposed to maintain public order, but in reality their function is to repress anything that differs from heterosexual normality-gays and lesbians, punks, left-wingers, etc.. There is no legal code governing their actions or prescribing their functions-in reality, they’re out of control," Cortez explained.

"Over time the serenos, as we call them, have become dedicated to making sure there are no gatherings or discussion meetings in public places, especially in the center city, to prevent spontaneous demonstrations against the government or the neighborhood mayors," Cortez noted.

On January 28 of this year, Serenazgo officers broke up a political gathering in support of Lima trans activist Belissa Andia (left), who was running for a seat in the National Congress-and verbally and physically assaulted members of the crowd. Belissa Andia and her organization-Claveles Rojos-had been leading a campaign against Serenazgo brutality.

"In other Lima neighborhoods, the serenos have also been denounced for excessive violence against these targeted groups," Cortez said. "Although they don’t have the right under the law to make arrests-in theory arrests are reserved for the National Police-it’s habitual to see the serenos deploy trucks where they detain people they consider suspect," including LGBT people.

Although homosexuality is not specifically a crime under Peruvian law, laws designed to regulate "public morality" are almost exclusively deployed against gays, lesbians, and the transgendered.

"The dominant political discourse here emphasizes that law and order demands the containment of the lacras socialies, the scum of society, and that includes everyone from transvestites who engage in prostitution to gays who are caught in raids on discotheques," said Cortez.

On July 14, Serenazgo officers broke into three discos patronized by lesbian, gay, and trans people. Officers blocked the exits and beat and insulted the disco owners, workers, and patrons. The raids were carried out without the participation of the National Police, required by law to be present at such a law enforcement action.

Cortez told Gay City News that there are small venues that specifically welcome gays and lesbians in most sizable Peruvian cities-bars, discos, saunas-but that "these places are generally clandestine, and operate with only precarious authorization. Frequently their owners have to go to court to prevent the closing and seizure of their properties."

Gay-bashing, said Cortez, is frequent throughout Peru, and he added that "the transgendered are the targets of bashing to a surprising degree."_"The press," he added, "speaks of us only to mock us, make fun of us, and make us seem ridiculous, as if we’re only interested in creating scandalous behavior. When TV broadcasts speak of LGBT people, it’s either when a crime or a theft is committed by someone gay, or once a year during the Gay Pride March."

The first Gay Pride March in Peru was held in Lima in 1997, "but with very few people," Cortez related, "while this year, it attracted some 500 people-gay activists, members of invited political parties, and sympathizers of the LGBT struggle." The gay movement in Peru, he explained, is still small. Lima has two principal groups. Cortez described the MHOL as a group "founded in the 1980s by left activists, but which has become very assimilationist and neo-liberal in its politics over the years." It "only addresses the concerns of well-off gays, like the issue of gay marriage, and is very close to the governing APRA party." The MHOL, he said, has a core of six activist members, but more sympathizers who come to its weekly meetings for youth as well as its adult gatherings. It’s Web site,, has not been updated since 2002.

The RDS, to which Cortez belongs, "self-identifies as part of the critical left and as part of the anti-globalization movement." The group, whose Web site is, has a dozen active members at its core and a larger circle of sympathizers.

Outside Lima, Cortez said, "there are not a multitude of gay organizations, and they tend to be ephemeral and have no staying power… The lack of a process of gay consciousness-raising in the rest of the country outside Lima means that a truly national gay movement in Peru is still only a hope and a dream."

December 09, 2006 –

Gay Couple Tie the Knot in Peru’s First Same-Sex Wedding

by Anthony Cuesta
In what became the first gay marriage ceremony to take place in Peru was held this week in Lima, setting a precedent for the South American nation. News site reports that a British citizen and his Peruvian partner formalized their union under British law in a ceremony held at the British Embassy in Lima. Although the legal union between two adults of the same sex is not permitted in Peru, the couple was able to legally validate their partnership under British law. Peter Goad, a British citizen, and Marco Bretoneche, his Peruvian partner, both 42 years old, were wed last Thursday according to

“Let this marriage serve as a precedent to Peru and let our union be recognized under the eyes of Peruvian law. We have the right to happiness, respect, and legal equality,” stated Bretoneche in a statement released this week. The British Embassy requested clearance from the Peruvian government prior to the ceremony, to which the Peruvian authorities gave the green light reminding the British authorities that the ceremony has no legal merit under Peruvian law. Britain’s Civil Partnership Act, which became law in 2004, permits the marriage of two individuals of the same sex.

Mexico City, the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul are the only places in Latin America where same-sex civil unions are legalized. According to to the Washington Post, lawmakers in Costa Rica and Colombia have debated, but not passed, similar measures. The Post reports that the large Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, is now considering a gay union law.

July 17, 2007 – ILGA-LAC Conference Lima
4th Regional Conference in Latin America and the Caribbean

ILGA will hold its 4th meeting in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The conference will take place in Lima from 20 – 23 of September 2007.

It aims at gathering a large number of activists dealing with LGBT issues in Latin America and the Caribbean (ILGA members and non members) to further progress their advancement. A regional consultation only makes sense if a great number of activists from all regions of Latin America and the Caribbean attend. We have been working to secure enough funding to bring around 40 activists to the conference. It is equally important though that groups decide themselves what will be the agenda of the meeting.

That is why we invite you to join us in web-forums where you, as groups but also as individuals will be able to propose the workshops of the conference, candidate activists for elections, decide what should be their mandate after the conference, submit ideas or proposals to be voted at the conference. The conference is also likely to draft and adopt a regional constitution. We trust this process will be a transparent event, providing accessible information to all activist and groups involved with the conference, so they are able to participate and make informed decisions. We have therefore created a website in Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

We invited you to visit the conference website to get more detailed information about ILGA and its fourth regional conference in Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope to see you in Lima.
Gloria Careaga
Beto de Jesús
Belissa Andía Pérez
ILGA-LAC Board Members, Latin America and Caribbean

August 16, 2007 – Associated Press

Strong Earthquake Strikes Peru, Hundreds Dead

by Laura Puertas and Jon Elsen
Lima, Peru – A powerful earthquake shook Peru Wednesday night, killing at least 337 people, Civil Defense authorities said today. More than 800 people are believed to have been injured. Most of the reported dead were in the region near Ica, south of the capital, which emergency workers said appeared to be the area that was hardest hit. The earthquake, whose magnitude was estimated at 7.9, was centered off Peru’s Pacific shore near Ica. Many people were killed in the rubble of their homes, and about 200 people were buried under a collapsed church. Emergency workers said the death toll might be even greater.

Ica was blacked out, as were smaller towns along the coast south of Lima. Rescue workers reported difficulty getting to Ica because of cracks in the highway and downed power lines. At least 200 people in Pisco in southern Peru were crushed under the rubble of a church that collapsed during a religious service, The Associated Press reported, citing the mayor of Pisco, Juan Mendoza Uribe. Mr. Mendoza Uribe said 70 percent of Pisco, a port city of about 60,000 people located 135 miles south of Lima, was leveled by the quake. “ So much effort and our city is destroyed,” he said, crying audibly, in comments broadcast on radio station RPP in Lima. The city remained without electricity this morning. Peruvian news organizations reported that bodies were strewn in streets where houses had collapsed.

Office workers in Lima fled tall buildings that shook in two waves that lasted around 20 seconds each and cut power lines, Reuters reported. “ I was in class on the fifth floor, and suddenly everything started to shake and glass began falling,” said Carolina Montero, 37, a banking administrator and finance student who lives in Callao, a coastal city near Lima. “People got extremely nervous.” Fernando Calderon, an American in Lima, said he was in his hotel when the quake struck. He described the scene as unreal, with buildings swaying from right to left, and the ground shaking.

“ We realized everybody was out, and the ground was shaking for a minute,” he said by telephone in an interview with CNN. “Finally we started hearing glass breaking, and things falling out of the building and that’s when everybody started screaming, praying, children crying. It was just awful.”

Electra Anderson, another American, told CNN by telephone from her apartment in Peru that it seemed when the quake began that many people had no idea what was happening, and ran into the streets screaming and crying. “ We’re used to earthquakes,” said Ms. Anderson, who is from California. “But it just didn’t stop; it kept going and going, and it kept getting stronger and stronger.” She added that she counted about 70 aftershocks: “It’s just been non-stop.” Her belongings in the apartment went flying and the glass windows appeared to be bending in. “People really thought they were going to die,” Ms. Anderson said.

The United States Geological Survey said the earthquake struck about 90 miles southeast of Lima at a depth of about 25 miles. Four strong aftershocks ranging from magnitudes of 5.4 to 5.9 followed. A tsunami warning was issued for Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia, and a small tsunami was detected, but it posed no major threat and the warning was later lifted, news services reported.

The last time a quake of magnitude 7.0 or larger struck Peru was in September 2005, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked Peru’s northern jungle, killing four people. In 2001, a 7.9-magnitude quake struck near the southern Andean city of Arequipa, killing 71 people.

Laura Puertas reported from Lima, Peru, and Jon Elsen reported from New York. Simon Romero contributed reporting from Caracas, Venezuela, and Christine Hauser contributed from New York.

August 17, 2007 – New York Times

Toll Climbs to 510 in Peru

by Simon Romero
The death toll along Peru’s earthquake-ravaged southern coast climbed to 510 today, a top fire department official said, with at least 17,000 people displaced and wide areas without power, telephone service or road access. At least 300 of the dead were in Pisco, a port city about 125 miles south of Lima, and more were thought to be buried in rubble, local officials said. Dozens were inside the San Clemente cathedral, which was full for Mass when the quake caused it to cave in around 6:40 p.m. on Wednesday. Witnesses said the spire bell clanged horribly in the seconds before it tumbled down…

August 17, 2007 – Associated Press

Anxious Peru quake survivors loot market

by Frank Bajak inPissco, Peru
Associated Press writers Jeanneth Valdivieso in Pisco and Monte Hayes in Lima contributed to this report.

Hungry earthquake survivors ransacked a public market Friday, while other mobs looted a refrigerated trailer and blocked aid trucks, prompting Peru’s president to appeal for calm. Aid finally arrived to the disaster zone after about 36 hours without much help.Few buildings still stood in the fishing city of Pisco Friday in the wake of a magnitude-8 earthquake that killed 510 people. Many of the structures not reduced to rubble were rickety deathtraps waiting to fall.

President Alan Garcia, on the scene for the second straight day, vowed that no one would die of hunger or thirst. " I understand your desperation, your anxiety," he said. "There is no reason to fall into exaggerated desperation." Garcia predicted "a situation approaching normality" in 10 days, but acknowledged that reconstruction would take far longer. Two sunrises after the earthquake all but leveled this city of 90,000 people on Peru’s desert southern coast, workers continued to pull bodies from rubble, the region lacked water and electricity, and officials began to worry about the outbreak of disease. The death count stood at 510, according to Peru’s fire department, and hopes of finding more survivors diminished. At least 1,500 people suffered injuries and Garcia said 80,000 people had lost loved ones, homes or both.

Brig. Maj. Jorge Vera, chief of the rescue operation, said 85 percent of Pisco’s downtown was rubble. The relief effort was finally getting organized. Police identified bodies and civil defense teams ferried in food. Housing officials assessed the need for new homes, and in several towns long lines formed under an intense sun to collect water from soldiers. In the capital of Lima, Peruvians donated tons of supplies as food, water, tents and blankets began arriving in the quake zone. Peruvian soldiers also began distributing aluminum caskets, allowing the first funerals. In Pisco’s cemetery, lined with collapsed tombs and tumbled crosses, a man painted the names of the dead on headstones — some 200 were lined up. Grieving relatives lowered coffins into shallow graves. " My dear child, Gloria!" wailed Julia Siguis, her hands spread over two small coffins holding her cousin and niece. "Who am I going to call now? Who am I going to call?"

All day, people with no way to refrigerate corpses rushed coffins through the cemetery gate, which leaned dangerously until a bulldozer came to knock it down. Doctors at Pisco’s hospital were treating 169 people but failed to save 30 others. Medical services were moved to a basketball court and the damaged hospital building was being used as a morgue, said Dr. Jose Renteros, the physician in charge. Many injured had been flown to Lima.

More aftershocks jolted the region, frightening survivors, who fell to their knees in prayer, but doing little damage. At least 18 tremors of magnitude-5 or greater had struck since the initial quake, which people said pumped the ground in violent jabs Wednesday evening like the pistons of a car engine. Survivors told tales of lost loved ones — a girl selling sweets outside a bank, a young woman studying dance, crushed when buildings made of unreinforced adobe and brick collapsed during the earth’s interminable two minutes of heaving. About 15 guests and workers couldn’t get out as the five-story Embassy Hotel accordioned onto its ground floor. A billiard hall buried as many as 20 people.

Manuel Medina said he had dug the body of his 12-year-old nephew, Miguel Blondet Soto, and a dozen other children from their English classroom at the San Tomas school. "Those who were in front managed to get out, but those in the back died," he said.
Soaring church ceilings tumbled onto the faithful in towns all around this gritty port city, covering pews in tons of stone, timbers and dust. " People were running out the front door screaming," said Renzo Hernandez, who watched from the other side of Pisco’s main plaza as the San Clemente church disintegrated.

The survivors, bloodied and covered in dust, hugged one another in terror and relief, he said. "It felt like the end of the world."
Fishing boats lay marooned in city streets in nearby San Andres, and an oceanside neighborhood of Pisco looked like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with piles of rubble poking from water that rushed in during the tremor. Searchers still sought bodies and survivors in the rubble of San Clemente church, where hundreds had gathered Wednesday for a funeral Mass when the quake struck. About 50 bodies had been removed, said Jorge Molina, the search team leader. "We’ve heard sounds. There are two places where we’re hearing taps, very faint taps," he said.

Molina held out hope for finding more people alive — a man was pulled from the church wreckage Thursday. But searchers were having little luck as they went block to block in Pisco, shouting into piles of brick and mortar: "We’re firefighters! If you can hear us, shout or strike something!" The U.S. government released $150,000 in cash to pay for emergency supplies and dispatched medical teams — one of which was already on the ground. It also sent two mobile clinics and loaned two helicopters to Peruvian authorities. But the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, now docked in Ecuador, won’t make the three-day trip to Pisco because both governments decided it wasn’t needed. The Comfort carries 800 medical personnel, but Peru needs supplies more than doctors, U.S. Embassy spokesman Dan Martinez said.

14th December 2007 – PinkNews

Peru urged to protect LGBT youth staff writer
The Peruvian Congress is under pressure from gay rights activists to become a party to a convention on the rights of young people. The Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth seeks to promote and safeguard the rights of young people and remedy the inequality that thousands of young people confront for a variety of reasons, including for having a sexual orientation different from heterosexuality. But the Foreign Relations Committee of the Congress of Peru has raised concerns in this respect, and opposes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHOL) are asking people to write to the Peruvian lawmakers about the convention.

In a letter to Dr. Luis González Posada Eyzaguirre President of the Congress of the Peruvian Republic, IGLHRC said: "Far from promoting same-sex unions, the only right that the convention grants to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people involves non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This convention recognises that building just and humane societies requires recognising the diversity that exists in every community. We urge the Peruvian Congress to take these arguments into account and ratify the convention without reservations."

The Ibero-American Summit, a meeting of the Spanish, Portugese and Catalan-speaking nations of the world, has been held annually since 1991. The convention was adopted at the 2005 summit, held in Salamanca, Spain. The most recent summit in Chile hit the headlines when King Juan Carlos of Spain told the Venuzuelan president Hugo Chavez to shut up after he branded the former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar a "fascist."

IGLHRC points out that in 2002 the Peruvian President signed the Andean Charter to Promote and Protect Human Rights.

Article 10 of this Charter reaffirms the decision of Andean states to combat all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and any other form of intolerance or exclusion against individuals or groups.

Section F of the Charter is devoted specifically to the rights of people whose sexual orientation differs from that of the majority. Article 52 recognises that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or choice, are entitled to the same human rights.

In Article 52, the signatories commit themselves to combating all forms of discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or choice, paying special attention to preventing and punishing violence and discrimination against those whose sexual orientation or choice differs from that of the majority.

The signatories also commit to providing legal resources for effective remedy in cases of damage caused by such crimes.

For more information on the IGLHRC campaign click here.

27 December 2007 –

New Populations at High Risk of HIV/STIs in Low-income, Urban Coastal Peru

by Carlos F. Cáceres, Kelika A. Konda, Ximena Salazar, Segundo R. Leon, Jeffrey D. Klausner, Andrés G. Lescano, André Maiorana, Susan Kegeles, Franca R. Jones, Thomas J. Coates and The NIMH HIV/STD Collaborative Intervention Trial

Abstract The HIV epidemic in Peru is concentrated primarily among men who have sex with men. HIV interventions have focused exclusively on a narrowly defined group of MSM and FSW to the exclusion of other populations potentially at increased risk. Interventions targeting MSM and FSW are insufficient and there is evidence that focusing prevention efforts solely on these populations may ignore others that do not fall directly into these categories. This paper describes non-traditional, vulnerable populations within low-income neighborhoods. These populations were identified through the use of ethnographic and epidemiologic formative research methods and the results are reported in this publication. Although the traditional vulnerable groups are still in need of prevention efforts, this study provides evidence of previously unrecognized populations at increased risk that should also receive attention from HIV/STI prevention programs.


May 14, 2009 – PinkNews

Peru bans gays from joining the police

by Staff Writer,
Peru is planning to ban gays from joining the police, in an attempt to improve the reputation of the institution. Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas, who has been dubbed the Peruvian Thatcher for her conservative views, has proposed a raft of new measures to raise public confidence in the police. Along with permanent suspension of any officer found to have sexual relations with someone of the same gender, adulterers will also be barred from the force.

The measures will also censure those who "organise, promote, participate or incite strikes, stoppages or marches." Critics have attacked the proposals for being unconstitutional. Last May, human rights groups expressed concern after the alleged rape of a gay man by the Peruvian police. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission asked its supporters to write to the authorities in Peru about the handling of the alleged case.

Luis Alberto Rojas Marín, 26, claimed he was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by three police officers in February 2008. Supporters of the police launched a campaign of protests, abusing the alleged victim’s sexuality and blaming him for the rape.

February 25, 2010 – PrideSource

Latin American LGBTs protest on Valentine’s Day

by Rex Wockner
LGBT people in several Latin American nations staged public actions on Valentine’s Day. In Peru, members of the Lima LGBTI Student Bloc held a kiss-in outside the Plaza San Miguel mall after being thwarted by security officers from doing it inside. In a separate action, in Lima’s Love Park, members of the Peruvian TTLGB Network staged five symbolic weddings between same-sex couples. Spokeswoman Susel Paredes said the group demands equal "civil rights."

In Chile, members of the United Movement of Sexual Minorities gathered in Santiago’s Army Plaza to insist on marriage equality. Spokesman Fernando Munoz said Chile lacks any formal recognition of same-sex partnerships. In Guadalajara, Mexico, gay student groups staged a march for equal partnership rights. Some 350 people set off from the University of Guadalajara and proceeded to downtown’s Guadalajara Plaza in front of the Roman Catholic cathedral, where they held a kiss-in and 11 symbolic weddings.

Mexico City recently legalized same-sex marriage. The law will take effect in March.

July 27, 2010 – OnTopMagazine

Peru Latest Latin American Country To Consider Gay Unions

By On Top Magazine Staff
Peru has announced it will debate a gay unions bill after Argentina became the first country in the region to legalize gay marriage. Congressman Jose A. Vargas has told the Peru press that he will introduce a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil partnerships. “There are people in Peru who have freely chosen to build a life together … and in a democratic society we have an obligation to protect them because there is a fundamental democratic principle against discrimination,” Vargas, a member of the ruling Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA) Party, said.

Vargas insisted the bill is “not marriage” and would not allow gay couples to adopt children “but it includes other [rights] such as inheritance and social security.” Gay couples would be required to live together for a minimum of one year. Warning that the bill is a ploy to win voters’ affections, the Roman Catholic Church urged against the measure.

Consideration of gay unions in Latin American has increased dramatically after Argentina approved its historic law. Two of -Argentina’s neighbors – Uruguay and Paraguay are expected to debate gay marriage. And Chile will consider a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

October 2010 – IGLHRC

Journalist and Activist Found Dead

On the morning of 20 September 2010, the body of Alberto Osorio, 44, journalist and activist for the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, was found by his mother, Esther Castillo. Mrs. Castillo found her son’s body in his apartment in the district of San Martin de Porres in northern Lima. He had been tied to his bed with a cable and bruises on his body indicated that he was beaten before being strangled.

In addition to Alberto Osorio, at least eight other gay or transgender people were murdered in 2010 in similar circumstances, according to Boletín Diversidad, a Peruvian organization that monitors homophobic violence. According to their human rights report, at least another seven gay or trans people were murdered in 2009. These crimes repeat the pattern used in the murder of Alberto Osorio: the perpetrator seduces the victim, enters their home and then beats, kills and robs them.

There is more to these crimes than the sensationalist reports of some in the Peruvian media that, in their accounts of murders of gay and transgender people, portray LGBT victims as immoral instead of focusing on the arbitrary and violent nature of these hate crimes. In the case of Alberto Osorio’s death, their speculation included that the murder was revenge for intentional transmission of HIV or was the consequence of sadomasochistic practices gone too far. Rather what is needed is a focus on bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

Very few of the cases of gay men and transgender people who have been murdered over the past year have resulted in criminal prosecution. According to some LGBT activists in Peru, the failure to solve and prosecute these crimes is a result of homophobic bias. In those cases that did result in prosecutions, LGBT organizations maintain that the failure to bring specific charges relating to anti-gay hate crimes has led to weak convictions for the perpetrators. They argue that investigations and criminal charges must take into account the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the victim as a potential motivation for the crime. Failing to do so allows for the impunity of perpetrators, underscores discrimination in the justice system itself, and leads to further hate crimes against LGBT people.

Alberto Osorio was a journalist and the president of VIHDARTE Centro de Desarollo Participativo Para Los Derechos y La Salud (Center for Participative Development for Health and Rights), a civil society organization he founded in 2001 to defend and promote the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. Alberto Osorio frequently denounced the Peruvian government’s neglect and indifference to drug and treatment shortages for people living with HIV/AIDS. As a representative of this community he was appointed member of the national commission on AIDS, Comité Nacional Multisectorial de Lucha contra el SIDA (CONAMUSA).

Send a message to the Peruvian authorities

December 7, 2010 – Reuters

Circumcision may not curb gay HIV transmission

New York (Reuters Health) – While circumcision has been shown to lower a man’s risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex, a new study indicates that the value of circumcision for gay and bisexual men remains questionable. In a study of more than 1,800 men from the U.S. and Peru, researchers found that overall, the risk of contracting HIV over 18 months did not significantly differ between circumcised and uncircumcised men. Over the study period, 5 percent of the 1,365 uncircumcised men became HIV-positive, as did 4 percent of the 457 circumcised men, according to findings published in the journal AIDS.

All of the men in the study reported having sex with other men and were considered to be at increased risk of HIV infection because they were already infected with the genital herpes virus (herpes simplex type 2), which can make people more susceptible to HIV. Male circumcision is far more common in the U.S. than in most other countries, and 82 percent of the 462 American men in the study were circumcised, compared with just 6 percent of the 1,360 Peruvian men.

The researchers did find some hints that circumcision could be protective among men who primarily had insertive sex with other men. Among men who said they’d had insertive sex with their last three male partners at least 60 percent of the time, circumcision was linked to a 69 percent lower HIV risk. That difference, however, was not statistically significant, which means the finding could be due to chance. Taken together, the results "indicate no overall protective benefit from male circumcision" when it comes to male-to-male HIV transmission, write the researchers, led by Dr. Jorge Sanchez of the research organization Impacta Peru, in Lima.

They add that studies should continue to look at whether circumcision affects HIV risk from insertive sex and do so in larger, more diverse study groups. In general, the researchers write, public-health messages for gay and bisexual men should "reinforce the importance of condom use for HIV prevention." The findings may help inform debate over whether circumcision could stand as a weapon against HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.

In 2005 and 2006, three clinical trials in Uganda, South Africa and Kenya showed that circumcision can reduce a man’s risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by up to 60 percent. The World Health Organization now recommends medically supervised circumcision as one way to lower men’s risk of HIV in countries where heterosexual transmission is common. But the public-health value of circumcision in other countries, including the U.S., is a contentious issue. Most HIV infections in the U.S. are related to homosexual sex or IV drug use and studies have yet to find strong evidence that circumcision lowers HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.

Circumcision is thought to lower the heterosexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases through several mechanisms. One is by reducing the amount of mucosal tissue exposed during sex, which limits the viruses’ access to the body cells they target. Another theory is that the thickened skin that forms around the circumcision scar helps block the viruses’ entry. One reason circumcision might have little effect on homosexual HIV transmission is that it would have no impact on the risk from receptive anal sex. Experts have also pointed out that in wealthier countries, many HIV-positive people are on powerful anti-viral drugs that reduce the risk of transmission, and any added effect of circumcision might be small.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision for newborns, citing insufficient evidence of overall health benefits. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, is in the process of developing recommendations on adult and infant circumcision for lowering HIV risk.

Source AIDS, online November 19, 2010.

December 2010 – IGLHRC

Update: Call on Peruvian Authorities for Justice in Murder of HIV/AIDS and Gay Activist

The National Police of Peru have undertaken a comprehensive investigation and have arrested and charged someone with the murder of activist Juan Osario. This would probably not have been possible without the hundreds of responses to this Action Alert, the amazing effort of members of the Association VIHDARTE, the Peruvian Ombudsman and the friends and family of Juan Osario.

As a result of the October 2010 Action Alert issued by IGLHRC with Boletín Diversidad and VIHDARTE, a representative of the office of the Peruvian “Defensor del Pueblo,” (Public Ombudsman), met with members of VIHDARTE to discuss the response of authorities to the murder of activist Alberto Osorio. At the meeting on November 3 the activists presented the more than 500 letters received through the Action Alert. The Ombudsman’s office expressed their commitment to following up the case – which is currently being investigated – and to support VIHDARTE, including through legal advice, during the process.

The government oversight body also noted their presentation before Peru’s Congress in support of a Hate Crimes Bill – a legal initiative currently being debated and seen as important by activists – that would result in heightened condemnation of crimes based on gender, religious, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity prejudice. The Ombudsman’s office also committed to holding trainings for police and media officers in order to avoid prejudicial investigations and communications. They also showed interest in getting involved, where resources and capacity allow, in other similar cases needing support.

Please continue to send letters –debate continues in Peru on the Hate Crimes Bill and these letters will encourage the support of the Justice Minister and the Public Ombudsman – key allies for the bill’s approval.

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