Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Gay rugby player from Bristol facing deportation to Kenya loses battle to stay in Britain

Ken Macharia started his asylum claim three years ago Credit: Bristol Bisons

A gay Bristol rugby player has lost his battle to stay in the country - despite claims he will be persecuted if he returns to his native Kenya.

Ken Macharia, 39, has lived in fear of being sent back to the African nation where homosexual activity is illegal and can be punished with heavy jail sentences.

The mechanical engineer was granted bail from an immigration removal centre in November last year - after being detained for two weeks.

After receiving news from the Home Office it had revoked his right to stay in the UK, friends and family say he may be detained imminently and sent back to Kenya.

On 3 June 2019, Ken received news from the Home Office that they were revoking his right to stay in the UK. Therefore he may be detained imminently by the Home Office, and then sent to Kenya, where he would face homophobic persecution and discrimination.

– Change.org petition page
The Home Office told Mr Macharia he does not qualify for Credit: Bristol Bisons

Mr Macharia, who plays for the LGBTQ inclusive Bristol Bisons RFC, says he fears mob violence or blackmail if he returns home.

The Foreign Office warns gay British travellers that holding hands or kissing in public in the East African nation could lead to imprisonment.

But the Government refuses asylum to the vast majority of Kenyans making claims on the basis of sexual orientation.

Mr Macharia, a mechanical engineer, says his former employer had told the Home Office that he would have been welcomed back to his role if he was allowed to stay.

His job is on the shortage occupation list.

Ken Macharia has been regularly checking in with an immigration officer Credit: Bristol Bisons

Lawyers and campaigners blamed a “culture of disbelief” among Home Office caseworkers, who they say set an excessively high bar for asylum seekers to prove their cases.

The Home Office defended its “proud record” of giving asylum to those fleeing persecution because of their sexuality, with all such cases being reviewed by a specialist or senior caseworker.

This Government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

All available evidence is carefully and sensitively considered in light of published country information.

All decisions on claims based on sexual orientation are subject to an additional safeguard reviewed by a second experienced caseworker.”

– Home Office statement
Kenneth Macharia was released from an immigration removal centre in November Credit: ITV West Country

In November Mr Macharia was granted bail from the Colnbrook Immigration Centre, but was told despite the decision his removal was still "imminent".

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.

The Home Office was also told to consider how Mr Macharia's raised profile in Kenya affects matters.

A petition to end the rugby player’s deportation has gained more than 104,000 signatures, including Stephen Fry’s support.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

  • WHAT'S THE LAW IN KENYA?

While identifying as LGBTQ is not banned, the nation maintains some laws from when it was under British colonial rule including the so-called sodomy offence.

Section 162 of its penal code criminalises “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature”, which is used to ban private acts of gay sex.

The punishment is up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Section 165 also targets public acts of “gross indecency” between two men and carries up to five years’ jail-time.

This can include affectionate acts such as kissing or holding hands.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.