A GAY rugby player living in Somerset is facing deportation to Kenya.

Ken Macharia, 39, was supported by Bristol Bisons teammates and various supporters as he arrived at Bridgwater Police Station this morning (Thursday, June 6) to report to authorities.

Although Ken was not detained today, a small reason to celebrate for his supporters, Bisons coach Ben Pickett said "he still has the sword of Damocles hanging over his head".

There was a large media presence and dozens of supporters came out to back Ken at Bridgwater Police Station.

More than 157,000 people have signed a petition opposing the player's deportation, including broadcaster Stephen Fry.

"I was overwhelmed with the support I have had and want to thank everyone who came out today," Mr Macharia said.

Yeovil Express:

The 39-year-old fears mob violence or blackmail in the East African nation, where the Foreign Office warns gay British travellers that holding hands or kissing in public could lead to imprisonment.

The mechanical engineer, who came to the UK to study for a Masters degree and plays for the LGBTQ-inclusive Bristol Bisons RFC, has been fighting deportation for three years.

He is on bail from an immigration removal centre and has been barred from working for almost a year.

Bisons coach Ben Pickett said: "They are not detaining him today which is a small relief, but they could still do so at any time theoretically if he does not leave the country of his own accord.

"We honestly expected it would just be 10 or 12 of the rugby players here, so to see all this support today is amazing.

"It is fantastic to see it is not just us who see this as a huge injustice.

"Ken is a great guy who does a lot of volunteer work. He is well liked and well respected."

Mr Macharia and his supporters are hopeful the decision to deport him will be subject to a judicial review.

Following a lengthy campaign by Mr Macharia's teammates last year, he was released on bail in November from a removal centre near Heathrow Airport where he had been detained for nearly two weeks.

The case comes as the Home Office - which is responsible for Ken's case - shows off support for LGBT rights, incuding on its Twitter profile, pictured below.

Yeovil Express:

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“All available evidence is carefully and sensitively considered in light of published country information.

"All decisions on claims based on sexual orientation are subject to an additional safeguard reviewed by a second experienced caseworker.”