A Bristol rugby team member is living in fear of violence and a potential prison sentence if deported from the city.
Kenneth Macharia has had his request for asylum rejected and could be deported back to Kenya.
Kenneth is the photographer for Bristol Bisons RFC, an inclusive rugby team based in Clifton which welcomes players regardless of sexuality, and fears persecution, violence, and a potential prison sentence as a gay man if he returns to Kenya.
In Kenya homosexuality can result in a prison sentence up to 14 years and a social media campaign has now been launched to support his situation.
Kenya’s penal code prohibits what the government call, ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature,’ which is generally understood as consensual sex between men, and ‘indecent practices between males.’
Kenneth, or Ken as he is known to friends, has been living in the UK since 2009 when he arrived as a student. He has family in the city, including his mother who lives in Bedminster.
A spokesperson for Bristol Bisons FC said: “Ken’s story is another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world.”
Bristol Bisons is one of the most successful rugby teams which includes gay and bisexual members in the country and is the only gay club in the South West.
The team aim is to offer support and a ‘safe space’ for gay men wanting to play rugby and members of the club say are devastated over Kenneth's situation.
Chairman Philip Rogerson said: “Ken is an integral part of our rugby family. His commitment to the ethos of inclusive gay rugby is second to none. We are risk of losing one of the herd.”
Ken has been with the Bisons since Aug 2015 and is the club’s official photographer and registered first aider. He is described as being “a huge part of the club.”
Philip added: "We believe his (Ken's) safety and wellbeing is at grave risk if his deportation was to go ahead. 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.”
His team-mates have been rallying around him at this difficult time, including Murray Jones who joined the club at the same time as Ken.
He said: “For me he is what the Bisons are all about, which is being there for your mates and giving selflessly. Despite all his efforts to claim asylum based on his sexuality, it’s being ignored. I cannot bear to contemplate what is going through his head at the moment.”
Story derived from www.bristolpost.co.uk