The Home Office Honours Pride Whilst Rejecting Gay Rugby Player’s Asylum Claim

Kenneth Macharia has been left feeling hopeless after his asylum claim to remain in England was rejected by the Home Office. The 39-year-old Bristol Bisons rugby player, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, first arrived in the U.K. on a student visa in 2009. His first asylum claim was initially denied before it was overturned and granted in May 2016. However, he has since had his fresh claim rejected and has been told by the Home Office to leave the country without delay. After living in the U.K. for a decade, he will now be deported back to Kenya.

Despite the Home Office acknowledging that gay men face harassment and up to 21 years of imprisonment in Kenya, they are still willing to deport Macharia, who will face a vulnerable and threatening future. The BBC reported that in May of this year, Kenya’s High Court rejected an appeal to overturn a law banning gay sex, with presiding judge Roselyne Aburili declaring that gay sex would “open the door for same-sex unions,” with her commentary adding that “there is no conclusive scientific proof that LGBTQ+ people are born that way.” Neela Ghoshal, a senior LGBTQ+ researcher at Human Rights Watch, said, “Kenya’s High Court has relegated people in same-sex relationships to second-class citizenship.” The archaic views presiding within the walls of Kenya’s court rooms have not appeared to humanise Kenneth’s situation to the Home Office, with his deportation still imminent.

However, what has outraged many people about this particular story is the blatant hypocrisy of the Home Office. Whilst they hone the details needed for Macharia’s deportation to a country lacking LGBTQ+ rights, a rainbow flag meant to show support for the LGBTQ+ community adorned their Twitter profile picture. The Home Office are not alone in doing this as during June, the month of Pride, the LGBTQ+ community is rightly celebrated. Businesses across the country offer packages and logos covered by a multicoloured hue to show solidarity and to address the ongoing work towards acceptance and equality. So, making money for the LGBTQ+ community and showing support is surely a good thing, right? Theoretically, yes, but this allows brands and consumers alike to support social and political causes in a low-effort way. Consumerist donations shown by people purchasing the ‘pride pack’ from Adidas, allows pride month to be honoured, all the while Adidas remain one of the major sponsors of this year’s World Cup, which will take place in Russia, a country with anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Although this shows Pride Month to be used as a consumerist hack to make money, we must not forget the origin of Pride: it comes from unapologetic political contempt and an uncompromising belief in justice, with this month marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Businesses like Adidas are exploiting this by adorning products with rainbows, however, the Home Office is personally complicit in callously removing LGBTQ+ migrants. The Independent reported that in the last three years, the number of members of the LGBTQ+ community seeking asylum has surged by 52%, with a staggering 78% claims refused. These statistics ring true as Macharia’s first asylum claim was rejected in 2016, further perpetuating their hypocrisy during pride month. The irony of the Home Office is contemptible, and we must not lose sight of their intolerable policies amongst the clutter of rainbow memorabilia. Macharia sits alongside countless other migrants who have failed to prove they are good enough, gay enough, human enough. We must acknowledge where we as a society want to reside, and not be caught up in the array of multicoloured jumpers and become complicit with behaviour demoralising the LGBTQ+ community. Instead we must take a stand against this mindless, offensive rainbow washing and speak up for Kenneth and many other LGBTQ+ migrants who are disregarded and lost amongst the clutter. Pride means freedom, and there is no pride in deporting LGBTQ+ people and stripping them of their freedom. The Home Office’s decision to reject Macharia’s claim is a direct assault on the peace and liberty of the LGBTQ+ community and they must be held accountable for their hypocrisy and the injustices felt by so many.

Katie Clarke