A petition has been launched as a last-minute attempt to prevent the deportation of gay Bristol Bisons rugby player Kenneth Macharia, who fears he will face persecution if he is forced to return to Kenya.
After being temporarily detained, the Bristol Bisons player could be deported within days after his asylum application and appeal were rejected.
Mr Macharia came to the UK in 2009 and previously had his visa extended on a number of occasions.
In 2015, he joined the Bristol Bisons and is described as “an integral part” of the club. He also works as a match photographer and is undertaking a first aid course to be the team’s medic.
The club has said Mr Macharia is “deeply concerned about being deported to Kenya, where he would face persecution” as homosexual acts are illegal and can lead to prison sentences of up to 14 years.
Thousands of people have signed a petition, set up by clubmate Andrew Holmes, to stop his deportation and Wells MP, James Heappey says he has asked Home Secretary Sajid Javid to reconsider the case.
However, the politician added that given the lengthy legal process the case has already been through, it would be “quite hard for [Mr Javid] to find grounds to use his discretion”.
The petition, set up by one of his clubmates Andrew Holmes, says: “Deporting a good, hard-working, gay man to a country where homophobic violence and imprisonment is rife is immoral and unjust, and should be stopped.”
In its travel advice for Kenya, the UK Government says: “Public displays of homosexuality like holding hands or kissing in public places could lead to arrest and imprisonment.”