Kenyan gay rugby player ordered to leave UK

By Vincent Kejitan | Tuesday, Jun 4th 2019 at 11:46
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Kenneth Macharia, a Kenyan gay rugby player who plays for Bristol Bisons, a gay and inclusive rugby club in the UK has been asked to leave the country without delay.

The 39-year-old initially sought asylum in the UK on grounds that he would face persecution and violence once he comes back to Kenya due to the country’s tough measures on same-sex unions.

A letter sent to Macharia from Home Office acknowledged his previous requests for fresh asylum but noted that ‘he had no basis to continue staying in the United Kingdom.’

“Your further submissions have been fully considered and I have concluded that you do not qualify for leave on any basis…

“You have no basis to continue to stay in the United Kingdom and you are expected to make arrangements to leave without delay,” read the directive.

It further stated: “Whilst same-sexual activity between men has been criminalized with a penalty of up to 21 years in prison, this law is rarely applied and the objective evidence does not establish that LGBT persons are likely to be subjected to persecution or serious harm.”

Macharia first claimed asylum in 2016, having arrived in the UK on a student visa in 2009 to study mechanical design engineering.

In 2018, his club, the Bristol Bisons protested his planned deportation arguing that Macharia would be persecuted in Kenya.

The club called on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene, launching a petition and raising the matter on social media.

Club chairman Phil Rogerson noted in a statement that Macharia was also a First Aider, accusing the UK home office of ignoring the plight of LGBT individuals.

“We believe his safety and wellbeing is in grave risk if his deportation was to go ahead and we stand by him and support him in his desire to make a life for himself alongside his friends and teammates here in the United Kingdom," he wrote.

The club further indicated that Macharia's mother lived in Bristol and the deportation would only serve to keep them apart.

“Ken has been one of the nicest characters I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His happy go lucky manner is infectious around other people and smile is one that lights up the clubhouse.

“Ken represents everything we stand for as an inclusive club. 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," stated Manager Lee Penfold.

In May Kenya’s high court upheld a law banning gay on grounds that sex decriminalizing same-sex relations contradicts constitutional values and the customs of Kenyan people.

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