Gay British-Mexican man convicted in Qatar after Grindr sting in ‘grossly unfair trial’

Manuel Guerrero Aviña and his brother Enrique (Image: Provided)
Manuel Guerrero Aviña and his brother Enrique (Image: Provided)

Manuel Guerrero Aviña, a gay man and British-Mexican national, has been sentenced to a suspended six-month prison-term in Qatar after a Grindr sting earlier this year.

Guerrero Aviña also received a fine after what the National AIDS Trust has called a “grossly unfair trial”.

The sentencing took place yesterday (5 June 2024) at Al Sadd Criminal Court in the capital, Doha.

If Guerrero Aviña decides to appeal, his travel ban will continue. But if he accepts the charges and pays the fine, he will be deported.

Qatari authorities detained the 44-year-old without charge in February 2024 and kept him for over six weeks. Guerrero Aviña claims they interrogated him about his sexual relations and subjected him to ill-treatment on the basis of his sexual orientation and his HIV positive status.

Manuel Guerrero Aviñ, right, and his brother Enrique (Image: Provided)
Enrique Guerrero Aviñ, left, has been campaigning on behalf of his brother Enrique (Image: Provided)

Security forces in plain-clothes arrested Guerrero Aviña, who had been living in Doha for seven years and worked for Qatar Airways, on 4 February, shortly after he agreed to meet another man through Grindr.

A Qatari official told Amnesty International on 24 March in response to the organisation’s request for information on the case that: “Mr Aviña was arrested for possession of illegal substances on his person and in his apartment … A drug test later came back positive,” and that “Mr Aviña’s arrest and the subsequent investigation are related solely to the possession of illegal substances with the intent to supply.”

“Wider crackdown on LGBTI individuals in Qatar”

“The Qatari authorities must overturn Mr Guerrero Aviña’s outrageous conviction and order his immediate release,” said Aya Majzoub, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. “There are serious fears that Guerrero Aviña was targeted for his sexual orientation and was coerced into providing the authorities with information that they could use to pursue a wider crackdown on LGBTI individuals in Qatar.”

Majzoub continued: “Guerrero Aviña’s treatment in custody and his unfair trial was utterly horrific. 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.”

Deborah Gold, CEO of National AIDS Trust, a UK-based HIV-rights charity, said: “Throughout this whole process of arrest, detention, and trial Manuel has been unable to have uninterrupted access to life-saving medication and proper tests and assessment. We are hugely concerned that he will not be able to access the ongoing medical care and treatment that is his human right while in Qatar. We urge the British government to do all it can to ensure Manuel’s health, rights, and wellbeing.”

“The UK government can make more effort to save the life on Manuel”

Guerrero Aviña’s brother Enrique previously told Attitude: “We need the support and solidarity of the LGBT community and the British citizens to make more pressure. The UK government can make more effort to save the life of Manuel and to bring him home. He’s a British citizen.

As recounted via a National AIDS Trust press release, the family told Amnesty International that they believe the online profile of the person he agreed to meet was fake and had been created by law enforcement officials to entrap him. The authorities subsequently charged him with possession of drugs and other drug-related offences, charges that he denies.

Guerrero Aviña told his family that during the second week of his detention, he was placed in solitary confinement and denied access to food and water for 15 hours a day and forced to beg for food.

The Qatari Penal Code criminalizes a range of same-sex consensual sexual acts under Articles 285 and 296 of the Penal Code. People found guilty can be jailed for up to seven years.

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