An Interview with Jasmin – a Shi’a and Gay Man An extended and updated version of an interview done on GayCityNews by Dan Littauer Gay Middle East.com Editor April 4, 2011 As the tiny Persian Gulf archipelago kingdom of Bahrain enters its second month of widespread protests — with clashes on March 13 resulting in
The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island microstate in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is known as one of the more tolerant Muslim nations in the Middle East, and has recently undergone a period of political upheaval. Homosexuality remains a crime and the government has periodically deported expatriates living in the nation for their sexual orientation. Homosexuality has been considered illegal in Bahrain since 1956 when, as part of the British Empire, it was given the Indian Penal Code. Article 377 of this code made "unnatural sexual behaviour" a crime punishable with imprisonment not to exceed ten years, or deportation for twenty years of a fine. The law remains in effect today, and seems also to apply to cases of adultery. However, the law seems to be rarely enforced. The subject of homosexuality in Bahrain is rarely discussed in the newspapers, although it is not a forbidden topic.
Bahrain has a reputation as a relatively liberal and modern Persian Gulf. The government has encouraged tourism development which is a significant source of income. Despite a recent period of political liberalization including some changes in the criminal code, in 2011 during the ‘Arab Spring’ major protests against government policies led to massive street protests.