Bhutan’s National Assembly has begun the process of decriminalising gay sex, a move which could hand LGBT+ people improved rights.
The Buddhist kingdom’s lower house voted on Friday (June 7) to remove two sections of its penal code which outlaw “unnatural sex,” defined as “sodomy or any other sexual conduct that is against the order of nature.”
An amendment bill will now be put to Bhutan’s upper house for formal approval.
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
Journalist Namgay Zam spoke to LGBT+ activists who said that the ruling has “validated” their identities.
“The fight that we have carried for the past four or five years finally bears fruit,” Pema, from the group Rainbow Bhutan, said in a video shared to Zam’s Facebook page.
Currently, LGBT+ people are not recognised under Bhutanese law, and as such aren’t protected from employment or housing discrimination and can’t marry or adopt.
Bhutan finance minister floated decriminalisation
Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Tshering first suggested the changes on May 29 before putting in a formal proposal.
Lyonpo told The Bhutanese newspaper that the anti-LGBT legislation “has become so redundant.”