Bhutan Takes a Step Towards Decriminalisation of Homosexuality

2019

The Bhutanese parliament took a historic step towards decriminalisation of homosexuality. COC Netherlands congratulates the Bhutanese LGBTI activists who have been advocating for equal rights for years and congratulates them on this historic step. The abolishment of articles 213 and 214 of the Criminal Code, on the basis of which “sodomy or any other form […]

The Bhutanese parliament took a historic step towards decriminalisation of homosexuality. COC Netherlands congratulates the Bhutanese LGBTI activists who have been advocating for equal rights for years and congratulates them on this historic step.

The abolishment of articles 213 and 214 of the Criminal Code, on the basis of which “sodomy or any other form of unnatural sexuality” is punishable with a maximum of 1 year in prison, was commissioned by Minister of Finance Lyonpo Namgay Tshering and adopted by a large majority (38 for, 1 against and 5 abstentions).

Tashi Tsheten, the director of Rainbow Bhutan, “Accomplishing this milestone took everyone’s help. The community gave visibility, the allies provided a space for advocacy and people who understood us, reached out and helped us. We know that this is just a start and we’ll still be reaching out for more support to help us reach our goals.” COC Netherlands has been working with Rainbow Bhutan to constructively engage with their government during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to call for an end to the criminalisation of homosexuality and equal rights.

During the UPR The Netherlands, Canada, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Iceland and Switzerland recommended Bhutan that the discriminatory criminal legislation goes against human rights treaties that Bhutan has signed and should therefore be abolished immediately.

The proposal now goes to the National Council for a final vote later this year. It is then up to the king to ratify the abolition of criminal laws with his signature.

[Source: COC NL – Photo members Rainbow Bhutan with Minister Namgay Tshering in front of the parliament building: Rainbow Bhutan Facebook]