Rainbow rising in Bhutan, with the tiny Himalayan kingdom’s lower house of parliament, overwhelmingly voting to repeal two sections of the 2004 criminal code which made “unnatural sex” illegal.
While the law was never been used, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering, who submitted the recommendation to repeal sections 213 and 214 of the penal code, said they had become “a stain” on the country’s reputation.
Tshering said he is optimistic that the upper house in the nation of 750,000 people would back the lower house decision.
Speaking to Reuters, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying: “Taking steps to end the criminalization of same-sex relationships is a welcome and progressive step by Bhutan.”
The bill now needs to be passed by Bhutan parliament’s upper chamber before being sent for royal assent.
If this amendment passes, 69 countries remain worldwide where same-sex relations are illegal.