The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) will introduce a procedural guidebook on the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT) community in the country to understand the sensitivity and needs in handling them.

The chief of police (CoP), Colonel Chimi Dorji, announced this at a sensitisation programme held during the Senior Police Officers’ Conference (SPOC) in Phuentsholing yesterday.

An LGBT community member made a presentation about the community’s challenges.

“We will also ask health ministry to train our people more,” the chief said.

Today, CoP said that policemen did not understand the sensitivities and needs of LGBT.

“Although LGBT community has been there for long, it was not open like it is today,” CoP said, adding that for the last few decades, the LGBT communities were victimised, harassed, and often discriminated by the law enforcement authorities. “Not because they caused problems, but because they were different and were not understood properly.”

CoP said police were left to use their personal judgment and often failed to use appropriate and professional methods while frisking, carrying out custodial investigation, and detaining LGBT persons.

CoP said search of such persons were carried out by police officers of the opposite gender and the same methods were applied when transgender persons were detained. Transgender women were detained in male detention cells and transgender men in female detention cells without considering their safety and security.

Today, more LGBT individuals come into conflict with the law and unless police are prepared to understand their sensitivities and needs, CoP said, and added that there would be a head-on collision with this community at a certain point in time that would be disastrous for both.

“Although there is no special treatment but we will be able to refrain from hurting them if we know them better.”

Pema Dorji said stigma is faced most in the school. Due to this, many LGBTs drop out of the schools. He said that Class X was the highest education for most LGBT people.

“Some are very intelligent but they drop out because of stigma,” Pema Dorji said. “They say they cannot wear gho when they feel like women.”

Pema Dorji further said there are no platforms for the LGBT members to seek information and support. Internet is the only platform where LGBT people could study about their sexuality without getting judged or stigmatised.

LGBTs are also suicidal and abused controlled substance and alcohol to cope up, Pema Dorji said. However, an LGBT accepting his or her sexuality is the most difficult challenge of all, he added.

“It is like doing away with tonnes of loads from your neck,” he said.

CoP Colonel Chimi Dorji highlighted the negative attention RBP has garnered in the recent times. “We are under so much attack by everyone in the social media, in the print media and TV. One issue after another in spite of the constant reminders.”

Officers involved in such misconduct shall be made to pay for their lapses, for their unethical behaviours and irrational ways, he said, adding that there are people watching police’s every move. “Did you as seniors as SPs brief your OCs to be humane and to use their brain than brawn while dealing with the people?  Please ponder on this for a while and if you think you have not done that so far, do it when you go back.”

Meanwhile, the SPOC that started yesterday will conclude on December 1.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing