Gay rugby player wins five-year battle against deportation to Kenya

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07/19/2021

A gay rugby player is celebrating after winning a five-year battle against deportation to Kenya, where he feared he would be persecuted because of his sexuality. Kenneth Macharia, 41, on Monday won an appeal in the immigration tribunal against Home Office plans to remove him from the UK. His campaign attracted huge public backing, with more than 180,000 people signing a petition calling on the Home Office to let him stay. He plays for the Bristol Bisons, an inclusive rugby union club, whose players offered support throughout his ordeal. Macharia, who lives in Glastonbury, Somerset, said that while he felt elated to be finally safe and free, the decision had not yet sunk in. “It has been such a long time living with fear and uncertainty but I will be celebrating this evening when I go for rugby training,” he said. “Now that I have been successful in my refugee appeal I feel that I can live a full life.” He arrived from Kenya in 2009 on a student visa and then renewed his visa as a highly skilled migrant working as a specialist mechanical engineer. He lodged an asylum claim in 2016 based on his fear of persecution in Kenya due to his sexuality. His employer has said there is still a role for him at the company.

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