A popular gay Bristol rugby player is due to be released from a London detention centre today.
Kenneth Macharia, 38, has won a temporary reprieve on a decision by the Home Office that could have seen him imprisoned in his home country of Kenya.
Macharia was informed by the Government that his application for asylum had been rejected and that he would have to return to his home country of Kenya.
The LGBT+ community are still persecuted in the East African nation and if Ken returns he could face imprisonment of up to 14 years.
The Home Office rejected his asylum application and his appeal because they believe Kenya to be safe for Ken – in spite of the widespread abuse of gay people.
Philip Rogerson, the Chairman of Macharia’s Clifton-based rugby club The Bristol Bisons, said: “Ken’s story is another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world.”
Ken’s rugby club, The Bristol Bisons, were key in supporting his campaign to remain.
The Bisons are the only inclusive rugby club in the South West, and describe themselves as offering “an open and welcoming environment to players and supporters of all abilities and backgrounds regardless of sexuality”.
Speaking exclusively to Bower News, Rogerson said that Ken – from Shepton Mallet, in Somerset – “joined our club in 2015 and few have embodied our principles more than he.
“As well as joining us on the pitch Kenneth is a trusted First Aider and comes to our aid when we need it, so it is only right and fitting that we come to his too.”
Rogerson added: “To think of what he is going through and the almost certain persecution he is facing if sent back to Kenya is horrific and no person should ever have to face this.
“Ken is a valued member or our team and the Bristol community.
“We need to do all we can to help Ken and make the Home Office realise this is not OK.”
Ken moved to the UK in 2009 and was supported in his campaign to stay in the UK by a social media campaign that garnered over 37,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.
The public and media alike united with local MPs to support Ken and prevent his deportation.
Ken’s MP James Heappey confirmed that he is awaiting release from Colnbrook detention centre, saying: “There’s lots left to do, but he won’t be going anywhere for now.”
Photo Credit for top photo: The Bristol Post