The Bristol Bisons RC is a local LGBTI inclusive rugby club in Bristol, UK. They are a member of the International Gay Rugby union and are very active in the rugby community. Recently, they have been fighting for one of their teammates off the pitch who is under threat of deportation back to Kenya, where he faces the threat of prosecution for being gay. According to the Crowd Funding campaign set up…
On Thursday 15th November 2018, Kenneth Macharia was detained by the UK Home Office. He was taken from Bristol to a detention centre next to Heathrow Airport and given notice that at any time after 5pm on Monday he could be on his way to Kenya. Ken had committed no crime and yet his freedom to live and contribute as part of our community, was taken away from him.
Ken is a quiet, kind, and caring man, one of the most loved people in his community, who has lived in the UK since 2009. A man who looks out for his friends and cares for his mother who, like him, lives in Bristol. Ken is also a gay man. A fact that, were he to return to Kenya, could see him face up to 14 years imprisonment.
He was detained because the UK Home Office had denied his application for asylum status. They stated that they did not accept that the “threat of prosecution [for being gay], amounted to a real risk of persecution on return.”
For many in Ken’s situation this story would end with them being held in detention, listening to the sound of planes passing overhead, knowing that soon they could be bundled onto one of them and deported to face hate, abuse and persecution, alone.
In Kenya, “homosexual acts” are considered illegal, if Ken returns he can face up to 14 years in jail. The Bison’s are sharing Ken’s story and experiences to bring education and awareness of the man’s ongoing fight against his deportation.
In 2015, Ken joined Bristol Bisons RFC, a gay and inclusive rugby team. He also got involved with Bristol Refugee Rights’ Pride without Borders LGBT+ support group, and KIKI Bristol, PoC LGBT+ social group.
On hearing about Ken’s situation these groups have worked tirelessly together to garner national media attention, the support of his and other local MPs and a petition with signatures from over 70,000 people in the first day. This resulted in the Home Office agreeing to temporarily release Ken from detention and withdraw the flight notice.
On November 28, Ken’s teammates arrived at Heathrow Airport to fight for his release from detainment. While he was ultimately released and allowed to return to his home from Bristol. His application for asylum has not yet been accepted, thus the risk of deportation is still real. But that won’t stop Ken and his teammates from fighting for him to stay, nor will it stop them from training.
By Dirk Smith