Bhutan’s trailblazing beauty queen speaks up for LGBTQ community

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07/11/2022

Tashi Choden will not only be the first contestant to represent Bhutan at the Miss Universe competition — she is also the Himalayan country’s only openly gay public figure. The remote country is famed for its philosophy of “Gross National Happiness”, in which it prioritises citizens’ well-being on par with economic growth. But up until February 2021, gay sex was defined in the penal code as “sexual conduct against the laws of nature”, and branded illegal in the Buddhist country. That makes Choden’s crowning last month as Miss Bhutan 2022 a “huge deal” for the country of almost 800,000 people and its LGBTQ community, she said.

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