Gay rugby player avoids UK deportation

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Gay rugby player Kenneth Macharia deportation notice cancelled

Image copyright Phillip Rogerson
Image caption Kenneth Macharia says he will be persecuted for being gay if he is deported to Kenya

A gay rugby player has been given a temporary reprieve from being deported from the UK.

Bristol Bisons team member Kenneth Macharia said if his claim for asylum was rejected and he was made to return to Kenya he would suffer violence.

His MP, James Heappey, confirmed the "removal" had been cancelled but said Mr Macharia still had to do a "lot of hard work" with his solicitor.

The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.

"Clearly this is great news that he's not going to be on a plane any time soon," the Conservative MP for Wells said.

"Ken's solicitor needs to understand exactly what led to the cancellation of the notice.

"What needs to happen now is he and his solicitor need to sit down because there is an awful lot of hard work to be done."

'Persecution and violence'

A spokesman for Bristol Bisons RFC said: "Whilst this is good news, we have no confirmation that Ken will not be removed from the UK entirely."

The LGBTQ+ team said Mr Macharia feared "persecution and violence in Kenya because he is gay".

Skip Twitter post by @bisonsrfc

He has been released from detention, but is just as viable for deportation as he was yesterday.
This is a great feat but we still have a way to go.

— Bristol Bisons RFC (@bisonsrfc) November 20, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @bisonsrfc

Skip Twitter post by @JSHeappey

I’ve just heard from the Home Office that the Removal Notice for my constituent Kenneth Macharia has been cancelled. There’s lots left to do to but he won’t be going anywhere for now. Thank you to @bisonsrfc & all others who’ve been in touch to support Kenneth.@bbcpointswest

— James Heappey MP (@JSHeappey) November 20, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @JSHeappey

Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Mr Macharia had been detained at Colnbrook immigration centre, near Heathrow Airport.

More than 68,000 people have signed a petition to stop him from being deported and to grant him asylum.

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