Bhutan Decriminalises Homosexuality

Bhutan Decriminalises Homosexuality
Image: King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan

On December 10 the Asian country of Bhutan decriminalised homosexuality, repealing the two laws which up until then made what they called “unnatural sex” illegal. Whilst it has been several years since these laws were actually enforced, the law which was in place would have had people who were found guilty serve prison time ranging from one month to one year. 

Both the upper house National Assembly and the lower house National Assembly made the decision to decriminalise homosexuality after parliament had reviewed the legislation over the last 12 months. 

One of the 25 lawmakers, Ugyen Wangdi the Vice-Chairman of the joint panel who considered the changes, mentioned 63 members of the country’s 69 member parliament voted in favour of the changes, six members were absent from the vote.

“Homosexuality will not be considered as unnatural sex now,” Wangdi told news agency Reuters by phone from the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. These changes still need to be approved by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan to become the law. 

 The kingdom, which is quite small, is set in the Himalayas and is home to 800,000 people who are mostly Buddhist. Bhutan is most famously known around the world by measuring its success with it’s ‘Gross national happiness index” rather than traditional economic measurements.

In light of the new law changes Bhutan is also considering to amend marriage laws and a proposal to use gender neutral terms in the near future. 

Apart from these laws being reviewed and pending the approval from the king of Bhutan, members of the LGBTQI community are still open to discrimination in regards to their sexuality or gender in employment or housing and can even be subjected to conversion practices. 

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