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Gay rugby player in appeal for UK not to deport him to Kenya

Ken Macharia
Ken Macharia

By Sam Blewett

A gay rugby player fighting deportation to Kenya has urged Home Secretary Sajid Javid to end his three-year-long ordeal by deciding his asylum case.

Since May 2016 Ken Macharia has lived in fear of being sent back to the nation where homosexual activity is illegal and can be punished by long jail terms.

The 39-year-old mechanical engineer, who is on bail from an immigration removal centre, has been barred from working for almost a year while living in what he calls a "hostile environment" for asylum seekers.

Mr Macharia, who plays for the LGBTQ inclusive Bristol Bisons RFC, is demanding that the Home Office rules on his asylum claim, as he copes with depression and anxiety. "Before I started this process I was thinking the UK is a champion of human rights," he told the Press Association.

"But I was surprised by the treatment I received. It was extremely hostile. They do everything they can to make it really difficult to apply for asylum.

"He (Mr Javid) needs to sort things out and really show the UK does live up to what it claims to be as a country that protects human rights.

"He took over after the Windrush scandal and the Windrush scandal was because of the way the Home Office treated people badly, but it treats very many people badly and it has not changed since he took over. It has been business as usual."

Mr Macharia 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.

But the Government refuses asylum to the vast majority of Kenyans making claims on the basis of sexual orientation.

Lawyers and campaigners blamed a "culture of disbelief" among Home Office caseworkers, who they say set an excessively high bar for asylum seekers to prove their cases.

The Home Office defended its "proud record" of giving asylum to those fleeing persecution because of their sexuality, with all such cases being reviewed by a specialist or senior caseworker.

A petition to end the rugby player's deportation has won more than 100,000 signatures.

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