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Rally to support Manuel Guerrero

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Human rights organisations National AIDS Trust and FairSquare are joining with the family of a British citizen arrested in Qatar, in a rally to urge the Foreign Office to do everything they can to bring him to the UK.

Manuel Guerrero was arrested in Qatar following a police sting using the gay dating app Grindr. After his arrest, Manuel was denied his vital HIV medication and subjected to experiences that Amnesty International has called “nothing short of horrific”.

While in detention, Manuel reports that he was withheld food and water and subjected to homophobic abuse and discrimination due to his HIV status, and that he was forced to watch other prisoners being whipped, in order to compel him to name other gay people in Qatar.

The context of his arrest and experiences in detention indicate he was targeted for being gay, and while Manuel is being charged with carrying a small amount of drugs, he strongly denies they were his and insists they were planted on him by officials. Manuel says he was forced into a false admission of this supposed crime by being made to add a thumbprint to a statement in Arabic, which he did not understand.

This is a crucial time in Manuel’s case, with the verdict due in early June. There are concerns for his health and welfare if convicted and imprisoned in Qatar, a country which has been evidenced to abuse LGBT+ people in detention, according to Human Rights Watch1.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of National AIDS Trust, said:

“Manuel has been deprived of the HIV medication that he needs to stay well, in a clear and abhorrent breach of his rights. We have grave concerns about his health and wellbeing if he is imprisoned in Qatar. Our government has a duty to protect its citizens whenever they face this kind of intolerable discrimination overseas.

“On the eve of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia it is outrageous that members of our community are still subjected to these kinds of human rights violations. So we are calling on supporters to come together and urgently demand that the Foreign Office intervenes, to bring Manuel back to safety in the UK.”

James Lynch, co-director of FairSquare, added:

“Since the very moment his ordeal began, Manuel’s case has been dreadfully and shockingly unjust. It is clear that the charges against him should be dropped, and at this stage we’re looking to the British government to stand up for his rights, make clear representations to the Qatari government about the unfairness of his trial, and support his immediate return to the UK.”

And Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavillion, also expressed her concern, stating:

“As long as Manuel is trapped in Qatar, his life will clearly be at serious risk, so we really need the Foreign Office to ramp up their efforts now and do everything in their power to bring him home safely.”

The rally will start at 5.30pm on Thursday 16 May, at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH.

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