Ex-British Airways manager held in Qatari prison for ‘being gay’ denied HIV meds amid torture fears

On the left is a picture of a plane taking off, on the right is a picture of Manuel Guerrero Aviña, he is smiling, has a beard and is wearing a suit

A British man, Manuel Guerrero Aviña, is being held in prison in Qatar after reportedly being arrested because of his sexuality.

The former British Airways manager has been detained since 4 February, after allegedly replying to a fake message on the queer dating app Grindr, The Mirror reported.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, with no protection from LGBTQ+ discrimination, according to the equality ratings site Equaldex. The country scores just seven out of 100 in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. 

Manuel Guerrero Aviña’s family has claimed that life-saving HIV medication is being refused while he is in prison. 

According to his brother, Enrique, who is leading the campaign QatarFreeManuel, the dual British and Mexican citizen is being imprisoned because of his sexuality, and has been denied access to antiretroviral medicines

“Qatar police used a false Grindr profile to contact Manuel and invite him to participate in a meeting with other people from the LGBT community in the city of Doha,” Enrique told The Mirror. 

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“Manuel was supposed to meet a person he thought he had arranged an appointment with on the night of 4 February but instead encountered police officers who were waiting to arrest him.”

Campaigners fighting for the release of the 44-year-old Qatar Airways employee have claimed that he has been victim of “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”, and that he was asked to identify other members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Act of torture”

“He has been denied the right to a lawyer and has been forced to sign documents in Arabic without a translator to assist him. Even worse, he has been prevented access to antiretroviral medicines he needs to be able to live with HIV, which constitutes an act of torture and puts his life at risk,” they claimed.

The Mexican Embassy in Qatar said that because Guerrero registered as a British national when he moved to there to work, the British Embassy is dealing with his case, but they been in contact with his family. 

“With regards to the case of Manuel Guerrero Aviña, who has Mexican and British nationality and is currently under arrest in Doha, the Mexican Embassy in Qatar confirms it has been following developments since it was informed about the detention,” an embassy statement read.

“It has been in constant contact with his relatives and has confirmed Manuel has legal representation.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office told PinkNews: “We are providing consular assistance to a British man who is detained in Qatar and are supporting his family.”