The U.K Government is facing criticism for rejecting a gay rugby player from Kenya who applied for asylum.
39-year-old Kenneth Macharia’s application to stay in the United Kingdom was rejected by the nations Home Office (who are a ministerial department responsible for immigration, security and law and order).
Macharia who is a member of the gay and inclusive English rugby club, Bristol Bisons, has been advised that he now must leave the United Kingdom “without delay,” despite a petition urging the government to grant him asylum which has been signed by over 100,000 people.
The U.K governments move to reject Macharia’s application asylum follows Kenya’s High Court recently upholding the country’s ban on homosexuality, however, the Home Office believes says: “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.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Macharia who came to the U.K as an engineering student in 2009 says that the decision has left him “feeling depressed” and “hopeless at the moment.”
In a statement, the Bristol Bisons said that they had received the news with a “heavy heart,” but vowed to keep fighting for their teammate.
“We will not give up. We will not let him be persecuted for being himself and for what we represent,” said the team.
Macharia originally received a work visa following his engineering study, his asylum application has been repeatedly rejected and he was detained last year before being released pending an appeal.
The Bristol Bisons is an inclusive rugby team providing an open and welcoming environment to players and supporters of all abilities and backgrounds regardless of sexuality to Bristol, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and surrounding areas.
Their website says they are a group of gay, straight and bisexual guys who get together to play rugby both on a friendly and competitive basis. It suggests there is a huge amount of diversity in the club in terms of age, background and experience.