A team of rugby players are raising their voices against the UK Home Office in an attempt to save their teammate from being deported back to Kenya.
The Bristol Bisons is a gay and inclusive rugby team that boasts itself as the only one of it’s kind in the Southwest of England.
Kenneth Macharia is a member of that team whose request for asylum was unfortunately rejected, according to KRTV.
Because of this, Macharia was detained at the Colnbrook immigration center near Heathrow airport on Thursday, November 15th. Immediately after arriving in the center, Macharia called his teammates for help. Thankfully, they all sprang into action.
As Phil Rogerson, the chairman of the rugby club, told iNews through a statement:
“As well as joining us on the pitch, Ken is a trusted first aider and comes to our aid when we need it, so it is only right and fitting that we come to his too.”
“We believe his safety and wellbeing is in grave risk if his deportation were to go ahead and we stand by him and support him in his desire to make a life for himself alongside his friends and teammates here in the United Kingdom.”
The Bristol Bisons have requested that the UK Home Office approve Macharia’s request for asylum, but the authorities have yet to respond.
Kenya, Macharia’s country of birth, is a hostile environment for gay men. Kenya’s Section 165, a law from British colonial rule that’s much like the Section 377 that India recently ruled as unconstitutional, prohibits “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” This ultimately criminalizes sex between men.
That said, the constitutional division of Kenya’s High Court is in the middle of hearing submissions about this law after India’s historic Supreme Court ruling decriminalized homosexuality. Kenya’s High Court is expected to announce it’s ruling on Section 165 on February 22, 2019.
That said, as Macharia told BBC radio from the immigration center, it’s the general populace who are the most threat.
“There is a lot of mob justice that takes place in Kenya because the police are generally inefficient and the general public have a habit of taking the law into their own hands,” Macharia noted.
In order to help Macharia any way that they can, the Bristol Bisons have created a petition on Change.org. Their hopes is that MP James Heappey and Home Secretary Sajid Javid will catch wind of Macharia’s story and grant him asylum.
As the petition states:
“The Home Office rejected his asylum application and his appeal because they deem Kenya to be safe for gay people – in spite of the persecution of gay people and 14-year imprisonment for homosexuality. Deporting Ken from the UK will also mean that he is unable to see his mother who lives in Bristol.”
“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. 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.”
In response to critique of how they handle LGBTQ asylum seekers, a spokesperson for the UK Home Office spoke to iNews and said:
“This Government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and the UK remains a world leader in its approach to handling this type of asylum claim.”
“We are committed to delivering an asylum process that is sensitive to all forms of persecution, including those based on sexual identity or orientation. We have a robust assurance mechanism which involves considering all available evidence in light of published country-specific information.”
The petition currently has more than 5,400 signatures, but so far the situation for Kenneth Macharia has seen no change.
h/t: KRTV, iNews