The Electronic Frontier Foundation has warned that gay dating sites are being used by police to entrap men across the Middle East.

The group states that cases of entrapment have been reported in several countries where homosexuality is illegal, and that police are frequently using apps to convince men to meet them, before arresting them.

A 30-year-old man was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012, after asking men out for dates over Facebook.

The group wrote: “In countries where homosexuality remains taboo or punishable by law, it makes sense for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and other queer-identifying people to explore their sexual identity online.

“But the Internet is increasingly becoming a risky place for exploration.

“More and more governments in the region are using digital surveillance to entrap, arrest, detain, and harass individuals who visit LGBTQ websites or chat rooms, or who use social media to protest homophobic laws and social stigmas.

“Meanwhile, nationwide filtering and complicit Internet search companies have censored content relating to homosexuality by blocking websites and restricting keyword searches in countries like Sudan, Yemen, and across the Gulf region.

“State censorship of sexual content abounds online, and LGBTQ content in particular is frequently a target. Support and health websites, and LGBTQ publications are regularly shut down or become inactive.”