Gay Kenyan rugby player Kenneth Macharia denied asylum in UK despite country's strict anti-LGBT laws

Lowenna Waters
Tuesday 04 June 2019 11:15
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Picture:(PA)

June is Pride Month in the United Kingdom, and to mark it, the Home Office has decided to change their social media profiles to show the pride flags and regalia. However, there are many, many problems with this.

One of the best examples is the plight of Kenneth Macharia, a gay rugby player who lives in Glastonbury, Somerset, who is facing deportation to Kenya, where he fears he will be subjected to persecution and violence because of his sexuality.

Macharia, whose plight has prompted more than 100,000 people to sign a Change.org petition to stop his deportation, has now been informed that he will have to leave the country 'without delay' after he's had a fresh claim for his asylum rejected by the Home Office, reports the Guardian.

Speaking about the decision to deport him, Macharia, who is an active member of the gay rugby team the Bristol Bisons, 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.

The mechanical engineer, who came to the UK to study for a Master's Degree, has been fighting deportation for over three years. In a tweet, the Bisons shared the news with their followers, saying they were sharing the news with a 'heavy heart':

The Home Office rejected his asylum claim because they deem Kenya safe for gay people, despite the fact that gay sex is punishable in the former British colony by up to 21 years in prison, and LGBT+ people have reportedly been subjected to harassment, blackmail and rape, reports the Guardian.

In a letter rejecting his claim, the Home Office said:

Whilst same-sexual activity between men has been criminalised with a penalty of up to 21 years in prison this law is rarely applied and the objective evidence does not establish that LGBT persons are likely to be subjected to persecution or serious harm.

The letter added:

You are expected to make arrangements to leave the United Kingdom without delay.

Macharia is currently on bail from an immigration removal centre and has been banned from working in the United Kingdom for almost a year. While awaiting the decision, Macharia has been forced to rely on his 70-year-old mother Jancita to work extra hours as a nurse to support him while he lives in Glastonbury, Somerset.

The captain of the Bristol Bisons has said that he is 'dismayed' by the decision, commenting that it is particularly worrying in light of a ruling last month in Kenya's High Court that upheld sections of British colonial-era laws that criminalise same-sex relations in the country, reports the Evening Standard.

Many people on social media have been calling out the 'hypocrisy' of the Home Office using the Pride regalia on their website, while also simultaneously deporting Kenneth.

MP for Glasgow South, Stewart McDonald, also got behind the campaign to revoke the decision.

A spokesperson from 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.

HT Guardian

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