Costa Rica has become a Mecca for Gay and Lesbian travel over the past few years.
The country itself has become far more tolerant of the Gay and Lesbian lifestyle. The cynical part of me would chalk this up to the fact that somebody has figured out that gays and lesbians tend to be great travelers, well behaved guests, and most important, have money and are willing to spend it!
While the country is predominantly Roman Catholic, the church here seems to have decided not to take an active role in the matter unless there is something scheduled that is of a public nature. For instance the Church DID in 1998, take an active role in getting canceled a gay/lesbian parade that was to be held in San José. They also got involved in a getaway tour to Manuel Antonio that was heavily publicized. Certainly, the Church here is anti-gay as one would expect in a Latin country, but it also seems to me that the attitude here in Costa Rica is a sort of "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" thing similar to the US military. I have been told though that the Church does tend to keep the homophobia thing going... just in the background.
The (un)official tourism position is that Gay and Lesbian tourism was neither encouraged nor discouraged. As of 2010. gay/lesbian travel has skyrocketed and shows no sign of decline. I also have not heard of any government agency or person hassling a traveler about his/her orientation.
Gay Friendly Accommodations
There are a goodly number of Gay or Gay-Friendly hotels in Costa Rica. Most of these seem to be centered in either San José or in the area around Manuel Antonio. In fact, the area around Manuel Antonio has, in just the past few years, become an extremely popular gay tourist destination. There are several gay or gay friendly hotels in that area. This part of Costa Rica has also seen a huge number of older and middle aged gays purchasing property or building homes in the Manuel Antonio - Quepos - Dominical areas with the intent of retiring or living here part time. Accommodations seem to be of the higher quality offering a variety of services and of course discretion.
There are a ton of gay bars and other meeting locations, but, especially in San José, you must really be careful not to be too "out there". A recent embarrassing incident in San José occurred outside a gay bar where a few of the patrons had gathered. Some individuals in a car were firing guns at the bar... and later exited the car to make it a bit more personal.
Interestingly, the Fuerza Publica (the regular Costa Rica police) entered the melee to arrest these miscreants only to learn that the baddies were actually members of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ)... the elite police department in Costa Rica! Ugh. I do not, however, think that this is the norm... just a few idiots out of control.
I say this not to scare anyone, but only to urge caution, especially at night in San José. The machismo thing here can get pretty strong.
Age of consent
Despite what you may read on other web sites, the age of consent for ANY sexual union in Costa Rica is 18.
As everywhere else in the world, HIV/AIDS and other STD's are common in Costa Rica. For the actual statistics, look here. They are pretty scary for a country smaller than West Virginia.
There are escort services that cater to both heteros and gays, but don't rely on the ads telling you all is safe a good. Use your head when visiting Costa Rica.
Here are a few links to Gay and Lesbian web sites in or about Costa Rica. As might be expected, nearly all are in Spanish.
Gay Costa Rica
Gay Times (UK)
GuiaGay (Gay Guide)
Interesting Articles on Costa Rica Travel for Gays: