Rally held in support of Briton arrested in Qatar after being 'trapped' by police on Grindr

The rally was held outside the Foreign Office on Thursday (National Aids Trust)
The rally was held outside the Foreign Office on Thursday (National Aids Trust)

The family of a Briton arrested in Qatar after being “trapped” by a fake Grindr account have held a rally outside the Foreign Office in a bid to secure his return.

Manuel Guerrero Aviña was arrested in February in what relatives say was a police sting on the gay dating app, and has since been denied access to vital HIV medication. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

On Thursday evening, supporters held a rally calling for Foreign Secretary David Cameron to personally intervene in the case amid growing concern about Mr Aviña’s welfare.

Supporters said that while in custody, the dual British-Mexican national has been subjected to homophobic abuse and discrimination due to his HIV status, and has had food and water withheld from him.

Amnesty International is among the human rights’ groups raising alarm, dubbing his treatment “nothing short of horrific”.

Manuel Guerrero Aviña (QatarFreeManuel)
Manuel Guerrero Aviña (QatarFreeManuel)

Speaking ahead of the demonstration, Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of National AIDS Trust, called for Lord Cameron to step in, saying: “Our government has a duty to protect its citizens whenever they face this kind of intolerable discrimination overseas.”

“Manuel has been deprived of the HIV medication that he needs to stay well, in a clear and abhorrent breach of his rights,” she said.

“We have grave concerns about his health and wellbeing if he is imprisoned in Qatar.”

Qatar has charged the 44-year-old with possession of methamphetamine, and insisted his arrest is not related to his sexuality.

But Mr Aviña denies they were his and says they were planted on him by police.

A cross-party group of 30 MPs and peers earlier on Thursday wrote to Lord Cameron to express their concerns over the case.

“The UK government must demonstrate its willingness to protect a British citizen who was targeted on the basis of his sexual orientation, had his lifesaving medication witheld, and who has reported ill-treatment and torture,” the group, which includes Labour MP John McDonnell and Tory MP Caroline Nokes, said.

Qatar is expected to hand down its sentence on June 4.

In a letter responding to the case last month, the Foreign Secretary said officials were taking it “extremely seriously” and offering consular support.

However, he added that under diplomatic conventions the UK could not “interfere with the judicial affairs of other countries”.

“Consular officials remain in close contact with him and have previously been in contact with his family to provide support,” he said. “That will continue until his case is resolved.”