1. ITV Report

Joy as gay Bristol rugby player fearing deportation released on bail

Kenneth Macharia was released from an immigration removal centre this evening. Photo: ITV West Country

A gay Bristol rugby player who is facing deportation to Kenya has just been released from an immigration removal centre near Heathrow Airport.

Ken Macharia, 38, who fears persecution in Kenya over his sexuality, had been granted bail earlier today, Wednesday 28 November.

Judge Edward Woodcraft told engineer Mr Macharia: "The fact I have released you on bail is not an indication that you will forever more be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom."

Mr Macharia, who is a member of the Bristol Bisons, was supported at the bail hearing by his mother and team mates from the amateur rugby club.

Bristol Bisons were elated to hear Mr Macharia was granted bail. Credit: ITV West Country

Mr Macharia had been detained since Thursday 15 November.

Speaking to ITV West Country, he said he had been extremely anxious while at the centre.

I'm very happy, I'm very grateful to my friends for supporting me. Without their help, I would not be free today so I'm extremely happy to be out of the detention centre.

The first day was extremely traumatising, I was extremely stressed.

They said that at 5pm on Monday they would deport me, so I was extremely anxious.

Initially, I thought if I was removed to Kenya, I could go in the country and hide who I am, but that is not a possibility, so I'm more worried than before.

– Kenneth Macharia

Bristol Bisons captain Murray Jones was at the hearing and said he and his team mates are "elated" that Mr Macharia was granted bail.

Despite being given bail, the hearing heard that his removal is still "imminent".

His friend of three years, and team-mate, Murray Jones, described the ordeal as a "roller coaster".

It's been a roller coaster ride today with all of us in the court listening to Ken's case but we've come out and he's been granted bail.

So we're past the first hurdle. We had a real wobble last night and a lot of people have rallied round to help Ken out.

And that's been a major advantage today for us to win this minor hurdle and the fact that he's been granted bail it doesn't mean that he gets to stay in this country at all, but it means it buys us time so we can get more support and more funds to make sure that he can be granted permanence in this country which is still overhanging."

– Murray Jones, Bristol Bisons teammate
Kenneth Macharia fears being deported and persecuted in Kenya over his sexuality. Credit: ITV West Country

The Home Office would not comment on the case, but a spokesman said the Government "has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity".

Mr Macharia was bailed with conditions that he lives and sleeps at an address in Glastonbury, that he provides financial sureties, and that he reports to an immigration officer.

While his fate is determined, the Home Office has been told to consider how Mr Macharia's raised profile in Kenya affects matters.

A Change.Org petition has more than 96,000 signatures in support of stopping Mr Macharia's removal.

An online fundraising page has raised more than £5,000 towards legal fees to have him remain in the UK.