Gay Rugby Player Wins Battle Against Deportation to Kenya

A rugby player in the United Kingdom, Kenneth Macharia, has won a five-year battle against deportation to Kenya, because he fears he would be persecuted for being gay.

The 41-year-old, who plays for Bristol Bisons, won his appeal at the immigration tribunal against the Home Office’s plans to repatriate him.

Originally from Kenya, Macharia came to the UK in 2009 on a student visa and later qualified as a highly-skilled immigrant working as an engineer. He filed an asylum claim in Kenya in 2016 citing the fear of persecution resulting from his sexuality.

Kenya’s high court had ruled in May 2019 that homosexual relationships are illegal because it is against the 2010 constitution that defines marriage as a union between people of the opposite sex.

When ruling in Macharia’s favour, Judge Lorraine Mensah noted that Kenya offers an environment that is hostile to openly gay men when discriminatory legislation is implemented.

The lawyer for Macharia, Dr S Chelvan, expressed concern about poor guidance from the Home Office’s country policy information division, which he said did not provide adequate guidance to asylum seekers about risk on return.

“Judge Mensah made clear the tribunal’s concerns that the Home Office’s April 2020 report on Kenya did not accurately reflect the risk to gay men in Kenya. In light of the independent chief inspector’s published recommendations last September, the home secretary should use this opportunity to review the operation and management of the country policy information team, in order to ensure accurate and reliable refugee claim decision-making by the Home Office.”

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