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Gay rugby player Kenneth Macharia gets deportation reprieve

Ken Macharia
Image caption Kenneth Macharia believes his life will be in danger if he is deported to Kenya

A gay rugby player facing deportation says he feels "relieved" he was not detained at his monthly check-in with police.

Bristol Bisons player Kenneth Macharia fears persecution if he returns to his native Kenya, where gay sex is illegal.

He received a letter from the Home Office on Monday and attended Bridgwater police station earlier but was allowed to return home.

The Home Office has said he does not have permission to remain in the UK.

Mr Macharia said: "It's a big relief as I was worried whether I would be going home today.

"But I still don't have permission to remain in the UK so my status is still precarious."

In November, the mechanical engineer, who came to the UK to study, was interviewed by immigration officials, arrested and held for several days until he won a last-minute appeal.

Earlier, he was accompanied by his fellow rugby team, supporters and solicitor as he made his way to the police station from his home in Glastonbury.

Image copyright Ken Macharia
Image caption Ken Macharia said he was "fearful" he would be detained when he attends Bridgwater police station on Thursday

Bisons captain Murray Jones said: "We're very, very happy for today but it's by no means over.

"The letter still stands, he still could be taken by the Home Office and detained at Heathrow at any time and flown back to Kenya.

"We still need to keep his profile up and raise the petition and we need to raise funds for his judicial hearing which will go ahead to help him stay in this country."

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

In 2016, Human Rights Watch found many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Kenya had "daily safety concerns".

Image caption Mr Macharia was accompanied by supporters when he attended Bridgwater Police Station

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