Exclusive: Foreign Office urges victims to come forward after gay blackmail and robbery

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PinkNews Exclusive
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have urged gay men who fall victim to blackmail abroad to come forward.

It comes after PinkNews revealed a string of gay men have been blackmailed and robbed after hook-ups on gay dating apps.

One man spoke of how he had been violently threatened and blackmailed after being secretly filmed having sex with a man he met in a Dubai hotel.

Speaking to PinkNews, a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office urged victims to make themselves known so they can offer help.

They said: “Our embassy staff will help you if you run into problems overseas, especially if you feel that you can’t approach the local police.

“We won’t make generalisations, assumptions or pass judgement.”

Official advice on using apps like Grindr, where caution is urged, can also be found here.

The International Gay and Lesbian Association has also warned that “episodes of blackmailing are still far too common” in such states.

One man told PinkNews of how he was violently threatened and robbed on a Grindr hook-up in Dubai.

The 43-year-old British businessman, who PinkNews is not naming for his own safety, suffered the attack on a recent trip to the UAE.

The UAE has some of the most anti-gay laws in the world, with homosexuality is “punishable by death”, and 10 year prison sentences are handed out for “consensual sodomy” in Dubai.

The man had been on a business trip in the west of Dubai when the attack happened.

He arranged to meet-up with guy who described himself as 29 and from Gambia, on dating app Grindr.

He told PinkNews: “I said to him I don’t meet escorts as in the past guys have asked me to meet, then want cash.

“This guy said he was not an escort and loved older white guys.

“He was very happy to see me and very friendly and smiling. I asked him where he was from and he said Gambia.

“But his demeanour was sincere, and the change in him a few minutes later was shocking.”

After meeting in the lobby of the hotel, the pair went to his hotel room.

As they undressed the Brit became suspicious after he didn’t appear to be aroused, and began to behave strangely.

Shortly after beginning to have sex he noticed his phone was still glowing and asked to see it.

It became evident he was being secretly filmed, and when he tried to take the phone things turned violent.

“I asked him to get dressed and leave. He put on his jeans, then said he wanted his cash”, the 43-year-old said.

“I was pretty shocked and told him no arrangement was made and I made it clear I would not meet an escort.

“I totally freaked out and told him to leave. He blocked the door partially dressed, demanding money.

“He told me I am ‘a dirty pervert spreading disease, and people like me are not welcome there’.”

A violent altercation then ensued, while the man demanded 4000AED, which was equivalent to about £1000 or $1200 at the time.

“He was very aware of what he was doing and I actually pleaded with him to leave.

“I tried to yank the door open past him and he told me he would take me down by one punch.

“He then went pushed me over to to my backpack which was on the table, rummaged through it and took about $1800 US dollars from my travel wallet.

“He demanded more cash and wanted to know where my UK money was. Luckily my cards and passport were locked iin the safe.”

The man has been left devastated by the incident, and has been unable to forget the attack as he has to continually visit the UAE for work.

He now fears gay men are being routinely targeted on dating apps for blackmail and robbery, after friends shared similar stories.

Since the attack he has learned of at least four friends who visit Dubai for work that have been blackmailed following online hook-ups.

A spokesperson for the International Lesbian and Gay Association told PinkNews: “Unfortunately, episodes of blackmailing are still far too common, especially in countries where the State itself seems to encourage human rights violations with laws that criminalise consensual sexual behaviour.

“As our State Sponsored Homophobia report points out, acts of sodomy in Dubai are punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment, but it is through the Sharia code that the death penalty could be applied to same-sex sexual relations in the United Arab Emirates. 

“Criminalising laws are still in place in more than 70 countries around the world, despite ongoing calls to repeal them: people must be made aware of the security risks that such laws pose to them.

“Help can be asked by contacting embassies and human rights organisations that can mobilise international support, but this may be difficult especially in countries where human rights defenders are harassed or prosecuted.”