Homosexuality in pre-Columbian Peru

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Erotic ceramics of Larco Museum in Lima

Some evidence for


Arrival of the Spanish and banning of homosexuality

Once the Spanish arrived, in the 16th century, they were astonished at the sexual practices of the natives. Viceroy Francisco de Toledo and the priests were aghast to discover that homosexuality was accepted and that the indigenous population also did not prohibit premarital sex or hold female chastity to be of any particular importance.[1][unreliable source?]

Historian Maximo Terrazos describes how the Spanish reconciled this native sexuality with the

Catholic faith:[1]

Toledo ordered natives evangelized and those "caught cohabiting outside church-sanctioned

segregation of the sexes in public. Violations were punishable by 100 lashes and two years' service in pestilential state hospitals. Under the Inquisition
, brought to Peru in 1569, homosexuals could be burned at the stake."

— Maximo Terrazos, historian

However, homosexuality in Peru was decriminalised in 1837.[2]


Chimú culture (1000–1400) depicting 2 men engaging in anal sex

Over a span of 800 years, pre-Columbian central

gay male anal intercourse, one depicts lesbian penetration with the clitoris.[3] Many others show partners where at least one member is of indeterminate sex, like the oral sex ceramic shown above, where the genitalia of the person on their knees is not visible. Such works, due perhaps to heterosexist bias, have often been interpreted as depicting a heterosexual couple.[3]


Many of the ceramics, along with most indigenous icons, were smashed. In the 1570s, Toledo and his clerical advisers organized to eliminate

procreation and that women do not experience sexual pleasure."[1]


In spite of this organized effort to destroy these artifacts, many have survived to the present day. For decades, the erotic ceramics were locked away from the public, accessible only to an elite group of Peruvian social scientists. Occasionally and reluctantly they were made available to select foreign researchers from the United States and Europe. The Larco Museum in Lima, Peru is well known for its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery.

See also