On Thursday 15th November 2018, Kenneth Macharia was detained by the UK Home Office. He was taken from Bristol to a detention centre next to Heathrow Airport and given notice that at any time after 5pm on Monday he could be on his way to Kenya. Ken had committed no crime and yet his freedom to live and contribute as part of our community, was taken away from him.
Ken is a quiet, kind, and caring man, one of the most loved people in his community, who has lived in the UK since 2009. A man who looks out for his friends and cares for his mother who, like him, lives in Bristol. Ken is also a gay man. A fact that, were he to return to Kenya, could see him face up to 14 years imprisonment.
He was detained because the UK Home Office had denied his application for asylum status. They stated that they did not accept that the "threat of prosecution [for being gay], amounted to a real risk of persecution on return."
For many in Ken's situation this story would end with them being held in detention, listening to the sound of planes passing overhead, knowing that soon they could be bundled onto one of them and deported to face hate, abuse and persecution, alone.
Thankfully Ken is not alone
In 2015, Ken joined Bristol Bisons RFC, a gay and inclusive rugby team. He also got involved with Bristol Refugee Rights' Pride without Borders LGBT+ support group, and KIKI Bristol, PoC LGBT+ social group.
On hearing about Ken's situation these groups have worked tirelessly together to garner national media attention, the support of his and other local MPs and a petition with signatures from over 70,000 people in the first day. This resulted in the Home Office agreeing to temporarily release Ken from detention and withdraw the flight notice.
But the story's not over
Ken might be free for now but his application still hasn't been accepted. He's been told that he's still subject to deportation at the whim of the Home Office. This leaves him in legal limbo, unsure what the next day will bring and unable to continue with his life. He has solicitors working on a legal case, reaching out to experts on LGBT persecution and trying to convince the government of the very real threat that he and other LGBT people face.
You can help
Unfortunately, there's no money available for Ken to pay for this support and lawyers don't come cheap. To give him the best chance to secure his safety and right to a free life we'll need everything we can get to help cover some of these costs.
As a community we are providing support for Ken at this challenging time. And you can join us by giving whatever you can to support his legal battle.
All the money received will go towards the cost of legal advice and support in Ken's case. If we're lucky enough to raise more than is necessary, the remainder will go to a group of Ken's choosing.