While there is more awareness and acceptance about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with supportive public voices and a sympathetic press, members say they still face prejudice and discrimination.
Pema, a gay, who works with Health Information Service Center, said the issue of acceptance and fear of not being accepted can keep some people in the closet.
“No matter how liberal society becomes with LGBT acceptance, LGBT individuals will still continue to encounter hard times with their families,” another member of the community said. “Sometimes LGBT people are told they are making their lives harder for themselves by being this way. Others have their parents question it as a phrase or even say, can’t you try harder not to.”
He added that there is a particular and profound type of stigma and derision in society aimed at femininity in men. “There is both an uncomfortable feeling and forbidden fascination among men with seeing men outwardly showing their feminine side,” he said.
Pema said that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men often get Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) and it is a concern for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. “Some of it can cause genital and anal warts and some can lead to the development of anal and oral cancer. But now with the use of lubricants, the STD in LGBT community has decreased,” he said.
Another member of the LGBT community said, “The LGBT community would like to plead to people to treat us better because we are not abnormal, we are human and want to lead a normal life like any other human”.
While the government does not demonise LGBTs the law does not recognize them. By law, homosexuality is a criminal offence.
But the LGBT community in Bhutan has not faced persecution or violence as is common in countries in the region.