British rugby players campaign to stop gay teammate being deported to Kenya

Kenneth Macharia faces deportation to Kenya after his asylum application was rejected. Source: Twitter: @bisonsrfc

Bristol Bisons player Kenneth Macharia fears persecution in Kenya as homosexuality is punishable by 14 years' imprisonment.

Bristol Bisons rugby players have petitioned to their local MP and the UK Home Office to stop fellow club man Kenneth "Ken" Macharia being deported to Kenya.

Ken, who is gay, has lived in the UK since 2009 and joined the Bristol Bisons RFC in 2015 on a working visa, his club wrote.

But Ken contacted his friends for help last Friday after finding out his asylum application had been rejected and he would be deported to Kenya.

He has been detained at Colnbrook immigration centre, near Heathrow Aiport.

Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Kenya.

"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," his teammate Andrew Holmes wrote in the petition.

"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."

The petition called on local MP James Heappey and the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to step in and stop the deportation of Ken.

Since the petition garnered more than 35,000 signatures, Mr Heappey tweeted that Ken was not going to be deported "for now" as his removal notice had been cancelled.

Since the news on Wednesday, the Bristol Bisons said Ken had been "released from the detention centre" and that they would be looking to raise funds to help contribute to his legal fees.

Bristol Bisons RFC is an "inclusive and gay friendly" rugby team in the South West of England.

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