Rugby team fights to stop gay player being deported to Kenya

Kenneth Macharia Kenya gay rugby

A LGBT+ inclusive rugby team is fighting to stop their gay teammate from being deported to Kenya, where he would be persecuted for his sexuality—as a petition to let him stay in the UK tops 65,000 signatures.

Kenneth “Ken” Macharia, who has played for Bristol Bisons since 2015, has had his asylum request rejected by the Home Office and is now facing deportation from the country.

On Monday (November 18), his teammate Andrew Holmes created a petition calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to let Macharia stay in the UK. It has 65,680 signatures at the time of publication.

Bristol Bisons RFC is fighting to keep Ken Macharia in the UK

Bristol Bisons RFC posted about their teammate Ken Macharia. (bisonsrfc/Twitter)

Bristol Bisons rallies behind teammate Ken Macharia

“Deporting a good, hard-working, gay man to a country where homophobic violence and imprisonment is rife is immoral and unjust, and should be stopped,” the petition reads.

The web page, which describes Macharia as an “integral” part of the rugby family, adds: “Ken is deeply concerned about being deported to Kenya, where he would face persecution, and he wishes to stay in the UK to contribute to society.”

“I would be forced to go back in hiding. I would be forced to go back into the closet.”

—Ken Macharia

“Unfortunately, Ken’s story is yet another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world.”

Speaking to PinkNews on Tuesday evening (November 20), Macharia, who moved to the UK in 2009, said that he was being held in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in Middlesex.

However, later the same night, Macharia said in a message to PinkNews that he had been released from the centre.

Bristol Bisons RFC tweet about Ken Macharia

Bristol Bisons RFC confirmed that Ken Macharia has been released from detention, but still faces removal from the UK. (bisonsrfc/Twitter)

Although he is no longer facing imminent removal, he added that he still does not have permission to stay in the UK.

He explained that he would have to conceal his sexuality if he is taken back to Kenya.

Bristol Bisons’ Ken Macharia: “I would be forced to go back into hiding”

“It’s extremely homophobic,” he told PinkNews. “There is mob ‘justice’ and criminals can blackmail you [over your sexuality] on online dating.”

He added: “I would not be able to live openly. I would be forced to go back in hiding. I would be forced to go back into the closet.”

Macharia said that he cares for his mother, who lives in Bristol and has arthritis.

“I would be separated from my family, my way of life,” he said.

Macharia said the support for his case has been “overwhelming.”

“I’m more confident now,” he added. “The rugby thing is giving me hope.”

PinkNews has contacted the Home Office for comment.