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Gay rugby player feeling ‘hopeless’ after losing deportation battle

Ken Macharia moved to the UK a decade ago but now faces being sent back to Kenya.

Ken Macharia said he has been left feeling hopeless after losing his deportation battle (Ken Macharia/PA)
Ken Macharia said he has been left feeling hopeless after losing his deportation battle (Ken Macharia/PA)

A gay rugby player said he is feeling “hopeless and depressed” after losing his deportation battle and being ordered to leave the UK.

Ken Macharia, who moved to Britain a decade ago, now faces being sent back to Kenya, where homosexual activity is 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 plays for the LGBTQ-inclusive Bristol Bisons RFC, 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.

I am kind of feeling hopeless and depressed Ken Macharia

Asked how he felt after receiving the letter from the Home Office on Monday rejecting his asylum claim, Mr Macharia said: “I am 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.

The letter states that Mr 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 Mr 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 on Thursday morning as part of his bail conditions, and his fellow players have said they will be there to support him.

Bristol Bisons captain Murray Jones said he is “dismayed” at the Home Office decision, and urged members of the public who support the cause to join them at the police station in a show of solidarity.

Mr Jones said 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.

While awaiting the decision, Mr 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 petition to end the player’s deportation has won more than 100,000 signatures, including that of broadcaster Stephen Fry.

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.”

PA

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