Rugby team crowdfunds to stop gay player from deportation to Kenya

Kenneth Macharia Kenya gay rugby

A LGBT+ inclusive rugby team is crowdfunding to pay the legal fees for their gay teammate in a bid to stop him being deported to Kenya, where he faces persecution and mob violence.

Bristol Bisons launched the Chuffed fundraiser on Thursday (November 22), after a petition to let their player Ken Macharia stay in the UK topped 70,000 signatures.

“We don’t know when or even if he will be the released.”

Macharia, whose case has been widely reported in the national press, had been told that the Home Office had withdrawn a flight notice.

This means Macharia will not be imminently removed from the UK to Kenya, where homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

However, Macharia, who lives in Bristol, where he cares for his mother, has still not been granted asylum to stay in the UK. He could be deported at a later date.

Despite being informed he would be released from detention, a Bristol Bisons spokesperson told PinkNews that Macharia is still being held in Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in Middlesex.

Bristol Bisons has launched a fundraiser for gay teammate Ken Macharia, who could be removed to Kenya

Bristol Bisons is crowdfunding the costs to put together a legal case to keep gay teammate Ken Macharia in the UK. (Chuffed)

“We don’t know when or even if he will be the released,” the spokesperson said.

Macharia’s lawyers are putting together a case, which Bristol Bisons are fundraising to support, to keep him in the UK.

“Ken might be free for now but his application still hasn’t been accepted,” reads the Chuffed crowdfunder.

Bristol Bisons supporting their gay teammate Ken Macharia on Twitter, who is being threatened with removal from the UK to Kenya

Bristol Bisons posted the fundraiser for Ken Macharia on Twitter. (bisonsrfc/Twitter)

“He’s been told that he’s still subject to deportation at the whim of the Home Office.

“This leaves him in legal limbo, unsure what the next day will bring and unable to continue with his life.

“He has solicitors working on a legal case, reaching out to experts on LGBT persecution and trying to convince the government of the very real threat that he and other LGBT people face.”

The fundraiser has so far raised £1,869 of its £8,000 target. It is being jointly run by Bristol Bisons RFCLesbians and Gays Support the Migrants BristolPride without Borders and KIKI Bristol.

PinkNews has contacted the Home Office for comment.

Macharia told PinkNews that his lawyer has applied for immigration bail and that he expects to get a court date scheduled for Monday (November 26). He added that he hopes he will be released before this court date.

Macharia’s case has been reported by the national media, including BBC News, the Guardian and the Independent. It’s also been covered globally by outlets such as CNN International. 

Bristol Bisons rallies behind teammate Ken Macharia

On Monday (November 18), Macharia’s teammate Andrew Holmes created a petition calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to let Macharia stay in the UK.

“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.”

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

Speaking to PinkNews on Tuesday evening (November 20), Macharia, who moved to the UK in 2009, said he would have to conceal his sexuality if he is taken back to Kenya.

“It’s extremely homophobic,” he told PinkNews from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre. “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.”

To donate to Macharia’s fundraiser, visit: