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LGBTQIA+ in Bhutan

Updated: Dec 3, 2022



Up until February 16, 2021, same-sex activity was considered a criminal offense according to the penal code of Bhutan. However, it was decriminalized on February 17th of the same year after the fifth King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, signed off on laws that amended the rules and included homosexuality as being legal. Since then, the queer community has started voicing their thoughts with lessened fear of prejudice and stigma.


The Queer Voices of Bhutan (QVoB) is a non-profit organization that advocates information related to the importance of queer people and their identities in Bhutan. The team also organizes workshops and conferences in collaboration and support from both local and international bodies, such as the Bhutan Ability Society, the International Association of Pride Organizations, and more. Recently, QVoB participated in the Youth Conclave program organized by Royal Thimphu College to present sessions on the theme of "Beyond the Binary: To accept Vs to Acknowledge". The ability to exhibit such discussions and talks on an institutional platform is one good example of the progress of awareness and acceptance of queer identity in our society.




One of the oldest known trans-women, Aum Penjor, shared her struggles and stories of being a trans-gendered individual through the Queer Talks Bhutan talk show. You can check out the full episode along with other segments on QVOB’s YouTube channel here.



There are other local groups and organizations such as Pride Bhutan and LGBTQ Bhutan that provide assistance to people regarding gender and sexuality confusion and campaign on behalf of these identities to fight against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and more.

Although being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is still new and taboo for many of the older generations in the country, a few are slowly learning how to embrace these identities.

“In my language, I have to call her my youngest son now. I did not say much, I wasn’t sad either. Whatever makes him happy, whether my child is a boy or a girl, for me it doesn’t matter”

-Om Nath Magar, father to T Shu Woaini a Bhutanese Trans man.

Source: IG: pride_bhutan



One of the greatest achievements and representations of the queer community is Tashi Choden Chombal, a 23-year-old model/actress who won the title of Miss Universe Bhutan 2022. Tashi is a gender-fluid lesbian who initially came out as bisexual at the tender age of 15 years old.

“I have a lot of pride in who I am, and then I have always been very vocal about who I am on social media as well. This has been a big .. you know like a big stepping stone, a big change in my life and for the LGBT community…because now they know that I can speak on their behalf, I can be their voice… so it has been like a prideful moment.”



Tashi also believes that pride month was a good luck charm for her as she secured the title of winner of the pageant with the love, encouragement, and support from her LGBTQIA+ friends and people.


Bhutan has a long way to go to discover various spectrums of sexuality and gender identity. There is also an emerging call for including LGBTQIA+ studies along with sexuality studies in the curriculum of Bhutanese schools. Since societal stigma and irrational hatred and fear towards queer people create mental stress, shame, and emotional distress toward their identities, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and the younger generation while rendering love and support to the queer community.



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