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Exclusive: British gay man ‘tortured’ in Qatar is almost out of HIV medicine, family says

Exclusive: British gay man ‘tortured’ in Qatar is almost out of HIV medicine, family says

Manuel Guerrero  Gay British flight attendant detained Qatar running out HIV medicine with brother Enrique
flier via twitter @QatarFreeManuel

Manuel Guerrero, 44, is banned from leaving the country and is about to run out of antiretroviral medication.

The brother of a gay British man is warning that despite his release from Qatari prison, his brother's detention in the country could be a death sentence.

Forty-four-year-old Manuel Guerrero, who also holds Mexican citizenship, moved to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, seven years ago for his work. He was detained on February 4 after being entrapped by law enforcement through a fake Grindr profile, and was held in jail for nearly two months, his family says.

During that time, Qatari authorities subjected Guerrero to secret nighttime interrogations where they forced him to name other LGBTQ+ people he had relations with, according to his family. After learning of his HIV status, they locked him in solitary confinement and refused to administer his medication.

Guerrero's brother Enrique, who has vocally advocated for his brother's release since his arrest, told The Advocate that Guerrero has since been released from detention facilities, but that he is prohibited from leaving the country, has been suspended from his work, and is running out of his medicine again.

"He's in a difficult situation because he doesn't have work, and Qatar is a very expensive country," he said. "On the other hand, he has a lot of traumatic stress because of the torture he suffered."

Guerrero has less than a month of HIV medication left, which will last until his first hearing on April 22. His "trial" could ultimately take months, said Enrique, who consistently used air quotations around the word to emphasize the illegitimacy of the proceedings.

"The state of Qatar is doing nothing to give him his medicine, so the problem persists," he said. "There will be more months and we don't have enough medicine."

Guerrero went 38 days without a lawyer or translator while he was detained, according to his brother. Even after he was appointed council, Guerrero's attorney was not given access to his case files until just yesterday — over two months after his initial detention.

As Guerrero is registered as a British resident of Qatar, it is up to the United Kingdom to secure his release from the country. While Enrique said he has met with officials who have been sympathetic to his cause, he believes the government "must be clear to the state of Qatar that this is not allowed."

"We need more support from the U.K. government because we need to repatriate Manuel," he said. "The U.K. government knows that the state of Qatar is doing nothing about his medication. This is a very critical situation and the U.K. government must be more effective and more clear about the life and the health of Manuel."

When The Advocate reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' office of Foreign, Commonwealth & Development for comment, an FCDO spokesperson only said: "We are supporting a British man in Qatar."

Human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, have long documented Qatar's history of abuses against LGBTQ+ people, including arbitrary arrest, forced conversion therapy, and physical assault. Rasha Younes, Interim Deputy Director of the LGBT Rights Program at HRW, told The Advocate that "Qatari authorities need to end impunity for violence against LGBT people."

"Qatari security forces are detaining and abusing LGBT people simply for who they are," she said. "Security forces arrest people in public places based solely on their gender expression and unlawfully search their phones. Human Rights Watch has documented how Qatar Preventive Security Department forces arbitrarily arrest LGBT people and subject them to ill-treatment in detention, including physical abuse, ranging from slapping to kicking and punching."

Younes added that "security officers also inflict verbal abuse, extract forced confessions, and deny detainees access to legal counsel, family, and medical care. Preventive Security forces often force them to unlock their phones and take screenshots of private pictures and chats from their devices, as well as contact information of other LGBT people."

Rights groups have also documented governments' use of social media to entrap and arrest queer people around the world, calling on platforms to take action against the practice.

While Enrique said "it's terrible that the state of Qatar uses these apps to persecute and target the LGBT community," he said that the "principal responsibility" does not fall on the apps, but rather law enforcement. Enrique noted that since his brother's arrest, Grindr has been displaying a warning to users in Qatar. He has also seen law enforcement use the same fake profiles across platforms, including Tinder and Whatsapp.

A spokesperson for Grindr told The Advocate that "we at Grindr are outraged at the recent events surrounding Manuel Guerrero Aviña, who continues to be detained in Qatar because of his sexuality and is being denied his necessary HIV medication."

"We are aware that in certain areas of the world police abuse digital platforms such as Grindr to target LGBTQ+ people. To support our members in Qatar, we have proactively posted a safety warning to alert them of the potential threats in the area," they continued. "We also host and regularly update a Holistic Security Guide and user safety tips on our website and encourage users to use our video calling feature to verify the identities of other users before meeting them in person."

"Grindr has always taken its role as a connector for the queer community very seriously. Tragically, it is still illegal to be gay in more than 60 countries, in many of which Grindr is one of the only ways for members of the LGBTQ+ community to connect with each other," they said.

To Enrique, who says he is close to his brother, this entire ordeal has felt "like we are in another century." He believes that Guerrero "represents for Qatar something very, very bad, because he's from the LGBT community, and he has HIV," which he said is "terrible" and "unfair." He is is now leading the QatarFreeManuelcampaign to draw attention to the case and put pressure on the British government to act.

"They tortured Manuel in the face of the U.K. embassy, and I believe the U.K. government needs to escalate the situation because it's critical and it's not fair," he said. "They must send a clear message to the state of Qatar that they can't do that to a British citizen. They can't torture a British citizen. This is important not just for Manuel — it's important for all British people."

This article originally published on our sister site, To keep up with the latest in LGBTQ+ news and politics, sign up for The Advocate's email newsletter.

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