Gay rugby player Ken Macharia of Bristol Bisons facing deportation from UK
"I'm feeling hopeless and depressed," says Ken Macharia; LGBT-inclusive club Bristol Bisons urge public to join them in support for team-mate
Last Updated: 03/06/19 6:41pm
Ken Macharia, the gay player with inclusive rugby club Bristol Bisons who has been fighting for asylum in the UK, says he is feeling "hopeless and depressed" after being told that he has lost his deportation battle.
Macharia, who moved to Britain a decade ago, now faces being sent back to Kenya, where same-sex relationships are illegal and can be punished with heavy jail sentences.
The 39-year-old fears mob violence or blackmail in the East African nation, where the Foreign Office warns gay British travellers that holding hands or kissing in public could lead to imprisonment.
The mechanical engineer, who came to the UK to study for a Masters degree and is a player and club photographer with the Bisons, has been fighting deportation for three years.
He is on bail from an immigration removal centre and has been barred from working for almost a year.
Asked how he felt after receiving the letter from the Home Office on Monday rejecting his asylum claim, Macharia said: "I'm waiting to hear back from my lawyer. I am kind of feeling hopeless and depressed and like life has got very, very bad."
He added that he hopes the decision will be the subject of a judicial review.
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It is with a heavy heart that Kenneth received this letter from the home office today and has been told he will not be allowed to stay home in the UK. The fight is not over and we need your support to keep Ken home with his friends and family. Please share and help support Ken in his continued fight to stay here. We will not give up. We will not let him be persecuted for being himself and for what we represent. #keepkenhome #fightforhisrights #BristolBisonsrfc . . . . . #gayuk #gayinsta #gayofinstagram #gay #rugby #gayrugby #inclusiverugby #instagay #instarugby #rugbygram #gayguy #rugbyunion #blackgaypride #rugbylife #equality #rugby #LGBT #gaymen #gaylife #rugger #pride #bristolpride #homosexual #bristol #bristol247 #equalrights #supportlgbt
The letter states that Macharia does not qualify for leave "on any basis", and adds: "You are expected to make arrangements to leave the United Kingdom without delay."
Following a lengthy campaign by Macharia's team-mates last year, he was released on bail in November from a removal centre near Heathrow Airport where he had been detained for nearly two weeks.
He is due to check in at his local police station in Bridgwater on Thursday morning as part of his bail conditions, and his fellow players have said they will be there to support him.
Bisons captain Murray Jones says he is "dismayed" at the Home Office decision, and has urged members of the public who support the cause to join them at the police station in a show of solidarity.
Jones says the decision is particularly worrying in light of a ruling last month in Kenya's High Court which upheld sections of British colonial-era laws that criminalise same-sex relations in the country.
In a tweet on Monday, the Bisons said: "Please share and help support Ken in his continued fight to stay here. We will not give up. We will not let him be persecuted for being himself and for what we represent."
While awaiting the decision, Macharia has been forced to rely on his 70-year-old mother Jacinta working extra hours as a nurse to support him while he lives in Glastonbury, Somerset.
He has previously told how he first had to convince officials of his sexuality with a wealth of evidence before trying to prove the danger he faces as a gay man in Kenya.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "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."