Metro Weekly

Gay Man Jailed in Qatar Being “Tortured,” According to Brother

Manuel Guerrero, who was caught in a Grindr entrapment scheme, is also being denied food, water, and his HIV medications.

Qatar Airways employee Manuel Guerrero – Photo: #QatarMustFreeManuel, via X

A gay airline employee with dual Mexican and British citizenship was jailed in Qatar on charges related to homosexuality. He is being subjected to treatment that amounts to torture, according to his relatives.

Manuel Guerrero was Acting Head of Product Development and Service Design at Qatar Airways. The 44-year-old was detained on February 4 in Qatar’s capital, Doha, after falling prey to an entrapment scheme on Grindr.

“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,” Guerrero’s brother, Enrique, told the British newspaper The Mirror. “Manuel was supposed to meet a person he thought he had arranged an appointment with on the night of February 4 but instead encountered police officers who were waiting to arrest him.”

Homosexuality is criminalized in Qatar, with sentences of one to three years in prison for “inducing or seducing a male or a female in any way to commit illegal or immoral actions,” or for “instigating” or “seducing” a male to “commit sodomy.”

The country’s 2004 penal code also allows for harsher penalties, including sentences of up to seven years in jail.

For Muslims, some courts may adopt an interpretation of Sharia law that can result in the death penalty, although the enforcement of such a penalty is rare, reports Human Dignity Trust, an organization defending LGBTQ rights abroad.

Guerrero, who has lived in Qatar for seven years, accused the police of planting drugs — a quarter gram of methamphetamine — in his apartment at the time of his arrest. The penalty for drug-related offenses includes a fine of 500,000 Qatari riyals, or about $137,000, and jail time ranging from one year to life in prison.

According to Enrique Guerrero, who visited his brother twice in prison, Manuel is being mistreated, being subjected to “psychological torture,” being deprived of food and water, having his HIV medications withheld, and being forced to witness prisoner whippings.

Authorities have also forced Manuel to name other LGBTQ people so that they can be arrested and prosecuted.

“He was forced to sign numerous documents in Arabic that he does not understand. He did not have an interpreter or a lawyer. The embassies were never informed by the Qatari government,” Enrique Guerrero told The Mirror

Guerrero moved to Qatar nine months ago to assume his current position. He previously spent 10 years working for British Airways, starting as an air steward and working his way into managerial positions. He also previously worked for Lufthansa, American Airlines, and Star Alliance.

Enrique, who is leading the #QatarMustFreeManuel campaign on social media, has called on the Mexican government to intervene, saying they need to issue a “clear and strong statement that demands the release of Manuel Guerrero,” according to the Agence France-Presse wire service.

But the Mexican embassy in Doha said in a statement that because Guerrero was registered as a British resident of Qatar when he moved there for work, the United Kingdom is responsible for discussing the case with Qatari authorities.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said it would “do everything within the power of the Mexican state to safeguard Manuel’s rights, his dignity and his access to necessary health treatments.”

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office told AFP that Britain is “providing consular assistance to a British man who is detained in Qatar and are supporting his family.”

Manuel Guerrero is next scheduled to appear in court on March 13, at which point prosecutors must decide whether to expel him from Qatar or prosecute him for homosexuality and drug charges.

His brother worries that any trial, which would take months to complete, would not only be one-sided but would likely constitute a death sentence, especially if Manuel continues to be denied his HIV treatment. 

The human rights group Amnesty International, which has previously criticized Qatar for its human rights record, especially as it pertains to LGBTQ people, denounced Guerrero’s arrest, urging Qatari authorities to “respect the rights of all people in the LGBTI+ community.”

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