Gay Bristol Bisons rugby player freed from detention but still faces removal

Kenneth Macharia Kenya gay rugby

Gay Bristol Bisons rugby player Ken Macharia has been released from detention—but a judge at the bail hearing said that this did not mean his long-term future in the UK is secure.

Macharia, who is facing removal to Kenya, was released from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre on Wednesday night (November 28), following the hearing at an immigration tribunal in Hatton Cross, Middlesex.

At the hearing, Judge Edward Woodcraft told Macharia: “The fact I have released you on bail is not an indication that you will forevermore be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom.”

Macharia was supported by his Bristol Bisons teammates at the hearing and wore his club’s kit in the courtroom.

Ken Macharia is released from detention

He confirmed to PinkNews that he has been released and is back home in Bristol, where he lives and cares for his mother.

“It’s been a long day around Heathrow, we had no idea what to expect heading in and it honestly could have ended very differently,” Bristol Bisons posted on Twitter after the hearing.

“Ken has been released on bail, and is on his way back to Bristol following a stint on the news.”

Bristol Bisons recently set up a crowdfunder to pay the legal fees for their gay teammate to claim asylum in the UK, after a petition to let their player Ken Macharia stay in the UK topped 96,000 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, still has not been granted asylum to stay in the UK. He could be deported at a later date.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Kenya.

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)

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

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

Speaking to PinkNews on 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.”


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

Bristol Bisons have launched a crowdfunder to pay for Macharia’s legal fees. (bisonsrfc/Twitter)

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

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

—Ken Macharia

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: