Gay rugby player Ken Macharia, who faces jail if he is deported from UK, gets reprieve
By Sky News
Last Updated: 07/06/19 8:20am
Gay rugby player, Ken Macharia, who was ordered by the UK to go back to Kenya has been granted a reprieve.
Macharia, who moved to the UK a decade ago, faces being deported after receiving a letter from the Home Office earlier this week rejecting his asylum claim.
Homosexual activity is illegal in Kenya and can be punished with heavy jail sentences.
He feared he would be detained when he went to Bridgwater police station in Somerset on Thursday where he has to check in every month.
Thanks to everyone who’s been in touch about my constituent Ken Macharia. I spoke with the Home Office before Ken attended the police station this morning & had confirmation that he would not be detained today. A Judicial Review process has now been started by Ken’s legal team.— James Heappey MP (@JSHeappey) June 6, 2019
Macharia, 39, who is on bail from an immigration removal centre, was joined at the police station by friends from the LGBTQ-inclusive Bristol Bisons RFC.
In a statement, the rugby club said: "We are ecstatic to announce that Ken was not detained today when he had to check in to Bridgwater police centre this morning.
"A huge thank you to the 60-plus people that turned up to support Ken, some travelling from as far as London to help.
"This is a small victory but we must continue the fight. We will not rest until Ken is safe and granted asylum here, at his home, where he belongs."
The Foreign Office warns gay British travellers about the dangers of travelling to Kenya.
The website says: "Homosexual activity is illegal. Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment."
James Heappey, MP for Wells, tweeted: "Thanks to everyone who's been in touch about my constituent Ken Macharia. I spoke with the Home Office before Ken attended the police station this morning & had confirmation that he would not be detained today. A Judicial Review process has now been started by Ken's legal team."
The mechanical engineer, who came to the UK to study for a masters degree, has been fighting deportation for three years.
Earlier this week, Macharia, who lives in Glastonbury, said he hoped the Home Office decision would be the subject of a judicial review.
"I am kind of feeling hopeless and depressed and like life has got very, very bad," he said.
He has spoken previously of having to prove to authorities that he is gay by giving them evidence, as well as trying to prove the danger he faces in Kenya.
A petition to end his deportation has more than 100,000 signatures, including that of broadcaster Stephen Fry.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office said earlier this week: "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."