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  1. ITV Report

Bid to prevent gay rugby player Kenneth Macharia's deportation to Kenya

Kenneth Macharia has lived in the UK since 2009. Credit: change.org

A last-minute attempt is being made to prevent the deportation of a gay rugby player who fears he will face persecution if he is forced to return to Kenya.

Kenneth Macharia, who is a member of the Bristol Bisons, has been detained and could be deported within days after his asylum application and appeal were rejected.

The club says Mr Macharia is "deeply concerned about being deported to Kenya, where he would face persecution".

Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya, where they can lead to prison sentences of up to 14 years.

A petition to stop his deportation, which has been signed by thousands of people, says: "Unfortunately, Ken’s story is yet another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world."

Mr Macharia's MP, James Heappey, said he has made a final appeal to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to reconsider the case.

"The Home Secretary has the power to exercise his discretion and that's what I'm asking him to do," Mr Heappey told ITV News.

But the MP for Wells said given the lengthy legal process the case has already been through, it would be "quite hard for [Mr Javid] to find grounds to use his discretion".

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Mr Macharia came to the UK in 2009 and previously had his visa extended on a number of occasions.

He joined the Bristol Bisons in 2015 and is described as "an integral part" of the club, where he also works as a match photographer and is undertaking a first aid course to be the team's medic.

The petition, set up by one of his clubmates Andrew Holmes, says: "Deporting a good, hard-working, gay man to a country where homophobic violence and imprisonment is rife is immoral and unjust, and should be stopped."

The UK Government's travel advice for Kenya says: "Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment."

The Home Office said it does not routinely comment on individual cases.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This Government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and the UK remains a world leader in its approach to handling this type of asylum claim.

“We are committed to delivering an asylum process that is sensitive to all forms of persecution including those based on sexual identity or orientation. We have a robust assurance mechanism which involves considering all available evidence in light of published country-specific information.”