Bhutan, Asia

Bhutan is located in the Himalayas. It used to be one of the most isolated nations in the world, but developments including direct international flights, internet, mobile phone networks, and cable television have increasingly opened the doors. Yet, Bhutan has balanced modernization with its ancient culture and traditions under the guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). On 14 December 2005, the King announced that he would be abdicating immediately. Bhutan has now entered a new era of democracy, starting with its first national parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008. Homosexuality is illegal in Bhutan in the penal code of Bhutan and is punishable with a prison sentence from between one month to one year. There are reportedly no known cases of anyone having ever been charged with this petty misdemeanor. Little is known about gay life in Bhutan, as Bhutanese culture does not share the typical western view of heterosexuality and homosexuality. Some people have even called it an openly bisexual society, though this is disputed.



Bhutan’s LGBTI community celebrate anti-gay law repeal

The small Himalayan kingdom became the latest country to decriminalize homosexuality on Friday (7 June) Bhutan’s LGBTI community had a good reason to celebrate over the weekend. The small Himalayan kingdom’s parliament voted to repeal two laws which criminalized homosexual sex late on Friday (7 June). Bhutanese LGBTI rights activists did not try to hide… Read more »

Bhutan mulls axing anti-gay law

The Himalayan country’s penal code punishes gay sex with up to one year in prison The Kingdom of Bhutan is considering decriminalizing gay sex as it looks to revise its Penal Code. The mountainous South Asian nation of 700,000 currently criminalizes gay sex. Articles 213 and 214 of the 2004 Penal Code punish same-sex sexual… Read more »

To Be, or Not to Be, in Bhutan

On My First Visit to Bhutan in 2007, one of the participants on our trip asked our guide Dorji about gay people in Bhutan. Dorji’s straight-faced reply was “I don’t think we have gay people in Bhutan.” Our driver, Karma, smirked at this comment, saying that he thought otherwise. But it was common to hear… Read more »

Bhutan’s underground gay community seeks acceptance

He admits his view had been coloured by a Wikipedia search that threw up Bhutan’s Penal clauses criminalising homosexuality, and not because of anyone else’s experiences. Clauses 213 and 214 in the Penal Code of Bhutan criminalise homosexual relationship. It states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of unnatural sex, if the… Read more »

Bhutan’s underground gay community seeks acceptance

Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Bhutan, but BBS presenter Namgay Zam says it’s no longer a black and white issue, and perhaps Bhutan should look with an open mind at the rainbow. The affirmation of the existence of a Bhutanese gay population only happened with the creation of the Facebook page and Twitter handle… Read more »

Bhutan lawmaker says law criminalizing gays may go

Bhutan MP Sangay Khandu says the country will have to revisit its laws criminalizing gay sex as attitudes change towards LGBTs Gasa Dzongkhag MP and Secretary of Bhutan’s National Land Commission Sangay Khandu has said that laws criminalizing homosexuality in the Himalayan nation will need to be reviewed as attitudes change towards LGBT people. ‘The… Read more »

Is this the happiest nation on earth?

In Bhutan tourists must contribute at least $250 a day. Anna Leach joins them to delve into the Himalayan country’s Gross National Happiness index. Is it just a gimmick or are the Bhutanese happier than other nationalities? Bhutan: Home to the happiest people on earth – officially. Bhutan is famous for its Gross National Happiness… Read more »

More equal or less equal?

As a country in pursuit of harmony and happiness, gender equality has lately become an issue in Bhutan. From cultural and traditional stereotypes to the marriage act to women’s access to inner sanctum of lhakhangs and dzongs, Metho Dema explores what issues of concern underpin gender debate. There is a popular story about a minister,… Read more »

Gay Bhutan News and Reports

1 Interview with a gay Bhutanese critic 2004 2 General Commentary on Homosexuality and Theravada Buddhism 2003 3 Thousands of southern Bhutanese of Nepalese ethnicity forcibly ‘evicted’ 2003 4 Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees 2003 5 Comments regarding Bhutanese/Nepali refugees 2004 6 Interview with Dori, a gay man from Bhutan 2006 7 Bhutan Lets the World… Read more »

How gay are Bhutanese gays?

Article 213 in Chapter 14 of the Penal Code of Bhutan states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of unnatural sex, if the defendant engages in sodomy or any other sexual conduct that is against the order of nature” Does unnatural sex, which is graded as a petty misdemeanour, include homosexuality? How rife… Read more »