“I do not speak of it much but when I was in college, I lost my partner to suicide; He was not accepted by his family and was pressured into getting married to a girl. This incident pushed me into doing something for the LGBTQ+ community. I knew that I needed to help the community, I just did not know how to do it yet. When I was younger, my friends would talk about relationships and attractions with women and I could not relate to it. I was confused for a long time, especially because I had never heard of the LGBT community. When I got to college and had good internet connection, I finally learnt about the community and about homosexuality. It was then that I understood myself and my sexuality.

With the want to do more at the core of my being, I met a few people from the community to search for a path. At first, I was scared to meet them. I did not know what to expect. But when I finally met them, they were friendly and I felt right at home. They knew and understood all the things I struggled with. I could finally relate. Soon after, a member of a LGBT network contacted me and took me to a community forum in Gelephu. After this, I was continuously engaged with them. Working with them, I knew this was how I could make the difference I wanted to make. From then on, I constantly and actively volunteered with them. This network is now known as Rainbow Bhutan and aims to celebrate diversity.

Regarding the amendment of section 213 and 214, although our network of community members do play a role, most of us agree that the major credit goes to the Finance Minister. When he was serving as the Programme Manager at the National HIV/AIDS control programme, he learnt about our issues. So when this government was elected, we naturally had very high hopes for legal amendments. But we were still surprised when it was raised in the National Assembly. We had hoped but not expected. During the whole process, we were anxious and worried. Although the National Assembly unanimously passed the bill, there were differences in opinions in the National Council and these led to moments of doubt. But the whole community is so happy that it eventually came to a successful and sweet note.

There were people who pointed out that the law was never strictly enforced and while that is true, it is also true that because these laws existed, we always felt insecure and scared. There were incidents of discrimination on the basis on these laws. Many people also remained in the closet because of this, which have greater implications than just social ones as they cannot come forward to seek the services that are provided. Above everything else, this discussion helped raise awareness about the community among the general population. Now people know more about us and that is the first step to acceptance and inclusion.”

This story is in honour of the amendment of the penal code of Bhutan. Humans of Thimphu thank and applaud the contributions of all individuals, organizations and the government for this and hope for more inclusion and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.

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