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Gay Brit says Qatari cops lured him on Grindr before falsely arresting him for drugs

Gay Brit says Qatari cops lured him on Grindr before falsely arresting him for drugs
Manuel Guerrero Aviña, right, and his brother Benjamin Photo: Amnesty International

A Mexican-British national living in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar has been convicted of drug possession after police lured him to a date’s apartment using a fake Grindr profile, his family says.

Manuel Guerrero Aviña, 44, was given a suspended six-month prison term and a fine at Al Sadd Criminal Court in the capital city of Doha on Wednesday.

The former Qatar Airways employee is currently under a travel ban, which will continue if he decides to appeal. If he accepts the charges and pays the fine, he’ll be deported.

Qatari authorities detained the 44-year-old without charge in February 2024. Authorities held him for over six weeks, during which time he says he was denied food and water for 15 hours at a time and was abused based on his sexual orientation and his HIV-positive status.

During interrogations, Guerrero Aviña says he was threatened with whipping and forced to identify sexual partners in his phone address book. He was denied HIV medication for the duration of his detention, he said.

“Guerrero Aviña’s treatment in custody and his unfair trial was utterly horrific,” said Aya Majzoub, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. 

“Instead of convicting people after unfair proceedings, Qatar’s authorities must urgently end the discrimination and persecution of people based on their sexual orientation and gender identities and repeal all laws that discriminate against LGBTI people,” Majzoub added.

Qatari authorities deny Guerrero Aviña was persecuted for being gay, and maintain that his detention and trial were based solely on drug possession on his person which was discovered by investigators at his apartment while he was detained at another location.

“Mr Aviña’s arrest and the subsequent investigation are related solely to the possession of illegal substances with the intent to supply,” a Qatari official told Amnesty International in March.

According to his case file, Qatari authorities informed Guerrero Aviña they had found traces of crystal methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in their search of his apartment.

Guerrero Aviña denies using or possessing illegal drugs and maintains they were planted by law enforcement officials.

“This case has been a travesty of justice,” said James Lynch, co-director of Gulf-based human rights group FairSquare. “Following his conviction, the British government has a responsibility to make urgent representations to the Qatari government about the deeply unfair and discriminatory process their citizen has been subjected to. They must also press the Qatari authorities to stop the persecution of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Police in several Middle East countries routinely use fake dating app profiles to entrap and arrest LGBTQ+ people, according to Human Rights Watch. 

In 2022, Amnesty International reported that security officials arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and otherwise ill-treated six people in Qatar for their sexual orientation. Six cases of severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody were reported by Human Rights Watch between 2019 and 2022.

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