The National Assembly of Bhutan has removed provisions in the penal code that criminalized gay sex.
The Lower House of the Buddhist kingdom scrapped Section 213 and 214 criminalizing ‘unnatural sex’ or homosexuality.
Breaking: Section 213 and 214 of the Bhutan Penal Code criminalizing ‘unnatural sex’ or homosexuality has been removed by the National Assembly.
— The Bhutanese (@thebhutanese) June 7, 2019
In order to become law, the bill has to pass in the upper house next.
LGBTI people in Bhutan have been ‘waiting for a change’
Exciting News from National Assembly of Bhutan!The NA Parliamentary process deliberated on the Penal code and cleared…
‘For someone like me who has been waiting for a change like this for now almost 27 years, it’s great news,’ a spokesperson for LGBTI Bhutanese group LGBTQ Bhutan told GSN.
‘Under the penal code 213 and 214 homosexuality was considered unnatural. But to date, no one in the country has ever been penalized.’
They furthermore added: ‘But the real challenge comes now when the bill goes to the upper house. And if the bill gets passed as a law then all those individuals who feel left out will have their own unique identity.’
Bhutanese journalist Namgay Zam posted a video of LGBTI people celebrating after the vote.
LGBTI rights in Bhutan
The Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge doesn’t formally recognize same-sex couples.
Famous for its pursuit of peace and harmony among its population, the country has a Gross National Happiness commission that strives for the wellbeing of its population.
But the vast majority of Bhutanese know little about the LGBTI community.
‘We believe that [most Bhutanese] never had the proper access to information and have never seen a LGBT+ personally’ Director of Rainbow Bhutan Tashi Tsheten told GSN earlier this month.