“All this terror because of a photo”

Police use fake Grindr profiles to lure, arrest and abuse LGBTQ+ people in Middle East and Africa. 

Authorities in the Middle East and North Africa are using Facebook, Instagram and Grindr to entrap, abuse and rape LGBTQ+ people, a new report has found.

Officials, including police, are making profiles on apps to lure LGBTQ+ people, before forcing them to unlock their phones under duress by threatening and beating them.

Private photos, WhatsApp and Grindr messages are then used to prosecute them under anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Human Rights Watch found evidence of the practice in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia after interviewing 90 people directly affected by digital targeting, as well as 30 experts.

In total, Human Rights Watch found 45 cases of arbitrary arrest of LGBTQ+ people who had been targeted online. Some of those who were prosecuted for offences such as “inciting debauchery”, “debauchery” and “prostitution” later had their convictions overturned on appeal.

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