Bhutan considers decriminalizing homosexuality

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THIMPHU, BHUTAN - SEPTEMBER 01: The Sitting Buddha is seen on the hill in Thimphu, Bhutan on September 1, 2013. The 169ft (51m) bronze statue, which will be accommodating 125,000 statues of Buddha. Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom which allows only a limited number of travelers since it opened to foreigners in 1974 in order to preserve its fragile environment and culture, has become an increasingly popular destination for international tourists. (Photo by Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images)

The country has been urged to “seize a historic opportunity to secure equal rights for LGBTI people in the country” by making gay sex legal. The bill which would make it possible is to be viewed by the upper house of the country’s parliament soon, as the lower house has given its primary approval already, voting in favor of the bill in June 2019. If it clears the upper house, the bill will then head for royal assent from the King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The law is only formal because there have been no convictions for homosexuality in the whole history of Bhutan. However, the international human rights campaigners believe that the bare existence of such a law is already discriminatory and it creates an unfriendly environment for LGBT people in the country. Finance minister Lyonpo Namgay Tshering first suggested the changes in 2019, before putting in a formal proposal. Lyonpo told The Bhutanese newspaper that the anti-LGBT legislation “has become so redundant”.

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