British Rugby Player Lost In Gay Asylum Loop May Become Homeless

Gay rugby player living in the UK just can’t catch a break.

Last month, we introduced you to the story of Kenneth Macharia. Macharia, who is openly gay, was born in Kenya where homosexuality is illegal, but moved to the UK on a student visa in 2009. He was then granted extensions twice, as a student and then a highly skilled migrant. Later, the 28-year-old mechanical engineer applied for asylum, but KRTV reports that his 2016 application was rejected in November.

Macharia has asked for his application for asylum to be judged a second time, but a new problem is now arising as he waits it out.

Macharia has been paying council tax for his studio flat in Glastonbury, Somerset. After his deportation notice, Macharia was told that he couldn’t work. To help pay the tax while he’s jobless, Macharia looked into a council-tax discount. Mendip district council offers aid of up to 80% for people of a working age. Unfortunately, Macharia is no longer eligible.

According to the Guardian, Macharia has received notice the week before Christmas that he isn’t entitled to the discount because he might be deported.

“The council has decided that you are not entitled to support because you do not have the right to remain. While your asylum application is being processed, you fail the immigration control test which means you are disqualified for council tax support and you do not meet any of the exceptions which may allow you to claim.”

Kenneth Macharia is in a tough spot right now. He can’t work because the British Home Office won’t allow it, so he can’t afford to pay his council tax. On top of that, his deportation status blocks him from seeking the aid he needs to keep his home. This could eventually leave Macharia homeless.

“I am not eligible for any support,” said Macharia to the Guardian, “The Home Office only supports asylum seekers after they are destitute and homeless. It takes a while after becoming homeless for them to offer accommodation. I didn’t want to become homeless.”

“I thought it was quite straightforward considering I’m not allowed to work. I thought they would be more understanding and give me a discount and say I don’t need to pay council tax.

“It’s a box-ticking exercise. The council are just looking at their regulations and completely do not care about the effect that has.”

For now, Macharia is relying on financial help from his 69-year-old mother, Jacinta, who works as an agency nurse. She has been paying for his £365 monthly rent plus bills while her son Kenneth waits for the Home Office to decide his fate.

This is just the latest in Macharia’s struggles since his application for asylum was rejected. That rejection led to him being detained at the Colnbrook Immigration Center near Heathrow airport.

Thankfully, Macharia is a devoted member of the gay and inclusive rugby team the Bristol Bisons. After hearing of his situation, the Bristol Bisons started campaigning to have Macharia’s asylum request relooked at. This is especially because homosexuality is illegal in the country and citizens often attack gay men as well.

“There is a lot of mob justice that takes place in Kenya because the police are generally inefficient and the general public have a habit of taking the law into their own hands,” Macharia noted in an interview with BBC radio.

Eventually, Macharia was released from the detainment center while his application for asylum is being readdressed. That said, he is now dealing with the new issue of his financial dilemma.

We’ll keep you updated as Kenneth Macharia’s situation continues.

h/t: The Guardian, KRTV

UPDATE 12/30/2018:

According to BBC News, two anonymous donors have come forward to pay Macharia's Council tax bill. 

He said: "I didn't expect it but two people have come forward to pay it."


Photographer Allegedly Drugged Male Models For 'Straight Guy' Fetish

Nigel Wilkinson, a British photographer, is accused of luring straight male models to his home for photo shoots where he would allegedly drug and rape them.

The self-described ‘fitness photographer’ has been charged with one count of rape, one count of sexual assault, five counts of voyeurism, and six counts of administering a substance with intent according to The Daily Mail.

According to testimony, he would approach men on Instagram and offer to take fully-clothed photos of the victims as long he was allowed to also take a few “semi-nude, arty, tasteful pictures’ for his own use.

The prosecutor, Sarah Regan, told the jury, "It is clear that he tapped into the modern obsession with looking good and promoting the self, to add to the number of followers and likes on social media."

His victims told the court he would offer them a drink, which they later realized was drugged, and would wake up naked, sometimes in the photographer’s bed.

One man alleges that he woke up the morning after a so-called photo shoot face down in Wilkinson’s bed unable to move, reports The Daily Mail.

“I wasn’t really capable of really moving, and I don’t think I could even really say anything,” the man told the court.

He added Wilkinson was “doing stuff” to him. The young man added, “I’m 99% sure he tried to have sex with me” as the photographer was behind him in an “obviously sexual position.”

In online Skype chats entered into evidence during the trial, Wilkinson apparently used the alias “Straight Boy Lover.”

In one chat, Wilkinson allegedly wrote “I love dumb jocks and guys stupid enough to sleep next to me.” 

He also said he “liked to have sex with straight men - and that he liked to do it without them being aware of it.”

Telling another user he was “very much” into “drunk, sleeping guys,” he was asked if he had ever penetrated ‘a sleeper.’ He allegedly replied, “Oh yes, many times.”

In an October 2014 chat with another user, he said to an online user based in Romania, “I get a kick out of robbing a straight guy of his masculinity.”

The alleged assaults took place between February 2014 and December 2015.

The court case is currently underway.

(h/t The Daily Mail)

British MP Comes Out As HIV+ In Advance Of World AIDS Day

During a debate today in the House of Commons, Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle courageously came out as HIV positive, making a personal appeal in advance of World AIDS Day to tackle the stigma still associated with HIV/AIDS.

Russell-Moyle becomes the first lawmaker to announce his HIV status in the Commons, and only the second MP to share their HIV+ status with the public.

According to The Guardian, the 32-year-old parliamentarian shared that he was first diagnosed with HIV ten years ago, and thanks to advances in HIV treatments he is able to live entirely unaffected by HIV.

“I wanted to be able to stand here in this place and say to those who are living with HIV that their status does not define them,” Russell-Moyle, the MP for Brighton Kemptown since 2017, said in a speech that drew tributes from many other MPs.

With the world observing the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day on Saturday, Russell-Moyle said the day “gives us pause to reflect how far we have come, and to remember those we have lost.”

“But such events are also deeply personal to me. Next year I will be marking an anniversary of my own – 10 years since I became HIV positive,” he continued. “It has been a long journey, from the fear of acceptance and today, hopefully, advocacy, knowing that my treatment keeps me healthy and protects any partner that I may have.”

“I have a perfectly healthy life,” he added. “So my announcement here today should go totally unnoticed.”

“We can be whoever we want to be, and to those who have not been tested, maybe because of fear, I say to you: it is better to live in knowledge than to die in fear.”

As he finished his speech, his fellow Labour members stood to applaud him even though applause is normally prohibited in the chamber. However, as you can see in the video below, the half dozen Tories in the chamber sat silent.



Russell-Moyle later tweeted:

Former Labour minister Chris Smith, elected to the Commons in 1983 and the first openly gay MP, announced he was HIV+ shortly before leaving Parliament in 2005.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, later honored Russell-Moyle saying, “Lloyd has shown enormous courage today. I know the whole Labour party is proud of him.”

(h/t The Guardian)

Violent Attack Leaves Psychological Scars On Bisexual Teen

A teen living in Nuneaton, a town in northern Warwickshire, England, was viciously attacked, beaten and reportedly left for dead because he identifies as bisexual.

CoventryLive reports the attackers were charged in the attack and pleaded guilty to the assault, but received no jail time. Instead, they were given referral orders (a form of community service) and ordered to pay compensation.

The teen had been spending the day with friends when he was approached by one of the two attackers.

“What you hanging around with him for, you do know he’s bi,” said the first assailant.

The other then said, “Is this right?” as he launched into the violent beating.

When one of the victim’s friends said, “I can’t believe you hit him because he is gay,” one of the attackers replied, “I haven’t got a problem with gay people, but I have got a problem with greedy bis like him.”

The teen was allegedly knocked to the ground and the attackers began to kick him before dragging him into a wooded area.

As the beating continued, the teen says they threatened him if he told the police: “If you give our names to the police, we will find you and kill you.”

At home, he told his mother “three lads in balaclavas” had attacked him as the attackers had told him to say. But when he was taken to the hospital, all pretense fell away and he shared the truth of the beating.

Although the physical injuries of the attack began to heal, it is the psychological scars that continued to plague the boy.

His mother says he became a recluse, and she would sometimes find him “huddled with his hands over his head.” Eventually, the teen would refuse to leave his house out of fear.

Although people in the community rallied around him with support, the young boy says,“I just wish that the police and the court had done their jobs properly.”

“I feel let down, I feel like no-one did their jobs properly because, if they did, one of them would be in jail,” he told ConventryLive. “They attacked me because I am bisexual, what happened has changed my life, it has made me constantly look over my back.”

The after-effects of the attack were so severe, the family has moved from Nuneaton for fear the boy would run into his attackers.

HIs mother says that he has begun to recover some of his old self from before the beating, but isn’t sure he’ll ever truly shake off the memory.

Having moved away, the family is coming forward now in an effort to highlight the injustice they feel they experienced.

“He just wants to stop any other kids going through what he has been through,” the mother shared with CoventryLive. “If they (the police) had said from day one it was not a hate crime, it wouldn’t have been so bad but all the way through we just kept being told that one of them might go to prison.”

For their part, the Warwickshire Police Force said through a spokesman, “We can confirm it was thoroughly investigated as a hate crime and charged as a hate aggravated crime.”

(h/t CoventryLive)

A British Rugby Team Is Fighting The Deportation Of Their Detained Gay Teammate

A team of rugby players are raising their voices against the UK Home Office in an attempt to save their teammate from being deported back to Kenya.

The Bristol Bisons is a gay and inclusive rugby team that boasts itself as the only one of it’s kind in the Southwest of England.

Kenneth Macharia is a member of that team whose request for asylum was unfortunately rejected, according to KRTV.

Because of this, Macharia was detained at the Colnbrook immigration center near Heathrow airport on Thursday, November 15th. Immediately after arriving in the center, Macharia called his teammates for help. Thankfully, they all sprang into action.

As Phil Rogerson, the chairman of the rugby club, told iNews through a statement:

“As well as joining us on the pitch, Ken is a trusted first aider and comes to our aid when we need it, so it is only right and fitting that we come to his too.”

“We believe his safety and wellbeing is in grave risk if his deportation were to go ahead and we stand by him and support him in his desire to make a life for himself alongside his friends and teammates here in the United Kingdom.”

The Bristol Bisons have requested that the UK Home Office approve Macharia’s request for asylum, but the authorities have yet to respond.

Kenya, Macharia’s country of birth, is a hostile environment for gay men. Kenya’s Section 165, a law from British colonial rule that’s much like the Section 377 that India recently ruled as unconstitutional, prohibits “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” This ultimately criminalizes sex between men.

That said, the constitutional division of Kenya’s High Court is in the middle of hearing submissions about this law after India’s historic Supreme Court ruling decriminalized homosexuality. Kenya’s High Court is expected to announce it’s ruling on Section 165 on February 22, 2019.

That said, as Macharia told BBC radio from the immigration center, it’s the general populace who are the most threat.

“There is a lot of mob justice that takes place in Kenya because the police are generally inefficient and the general public have a habit of taking the law into their own hands,” Macharia noted.

In order to help Macharia any way that they can, the Bristol Bisons have created a petition on Change.org. Their hopes is that MP James Heappey and Home Secretary Sajid Javid will catch wind of Macharia’s story and grant him asylum.

As the petition states:

“The Home Office rejected his asylum application and his appeal because they deem Kenya to be safe for gay people - in spite of the persecution of gay people and 14-year imprisonment for homosexuality. Deporting Ken from the UK will also mean that he is unable to see his mother who lives in Bristol.”

“Ken is deeply concerned about being deported to Kenya, where he would face persecution, and he wishes to stay in the UK to contribute to society. Unfortunately, Ken’s story is yet another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world.”

In response to critique of how they handle LGBTQ asylum seekers, a spokesperson for the UK Home Office spoke to iNews and said:

“This Government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and the UK remains a world leader in its approach to handling this type of asylum claim.”

“We are committed to delivering an asylum process that is sensitive to all forms of persecution, including those based on sexual identity or orientation. We have a robust assurance mechanism which involves considering all available evidence in light of published country-specific information.”

The petition currently has more than 5,400 signatures, but so far the situation for Kenneth Macharia has seen no change.

h/t: KRTV, iNews

Watch Prince Harry Encourage People to Get Tested for HIV in New PSA

In July 2016, Prince Harry made history as the first public figure to ever get an HIV test live on the internet. Then five months later, he got another HIV test with Rihanna in observance of World AIDS Day.

Today, he’s encouraging everyone everywhere to get tested. This is National HIV Testing Week in the United Kingdom.

The 34-year-old royal (and soon-to-be-father)’s mother Princess Diana was an advocate for AIDS and HIV awareness. Harry has continued her legacy.

The most recent statistics released by the Joint United Nations Program UNAIDS say 36.9 million people globally are living with HIV and 25 percent of those infected are unaware of their status.

On the bright side, new diagnoses are declining in the U.K., with a 28% drop in the past two years.

In the new PSA, Harry says stigma is to blame for many people not getting a “simple, quick and easy test.”

"Just as much as you protect yourself at this time of year from illnesses and viruses like cold and flu, you can also protect your health by taking an HIV test," Harry says.

"Taking an HIV test is something to be proud of—not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.”

"You don't even have to go to a clinic to find out your status,” he continues. “During National HIV Testing Week, charities like Terrence Higgins Trust will be out and about in your local communities in places like churches, shopping centers and football matches—or you can test yourself in the privacy of your own home.”

"And if you do get a positive result, you can get the treatment to live a healthy, happy life, and to ensure that you don't pass on the virus. It's simple. By getting tested, you are helping stop the HIV epidemic in its tracks. You are helping to save lives. This is such a pivotal time in the fight against HIV. If we can continue to make HIV testing the norm and empower young people to take control of their sexual health, we can be the generation to finally bring an end to HIV."

Watch the PSA below. 



h/t: Harper’s Bazaar

Anti-Gay Bakery Refused Service by Photography Company on "On Moral Grounds"

Touché, supporters of basic human decency.

As we previously reported, on Wednesday the UK Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland. The establishment refused to bake a cake featuring fictional characters Bert and Ernie with the message “support gay marriage.” The court ruled that this wasn’t discrimination, that the bakery had a right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

That’s infuriating, sure. But that’s not where the story ends.

Anti-LGBTQ+ group The Christian Institute covered the bakery’s legal fees, and shortly thereafter found the tables had turned. Perfocal, a photography company they hired to cover the hearing and press statement, ultimately denied them the service, refunding their money and withholding the photos.

Perfocal founder Tony Xu told Pink News:

“When our photographer on the ground learned what it was while doing the job, they felt immediately uncomfortable with the situation, as many members of the public are, but remained professional. As soon as I found out though, I realized this was an opportunity to highlight exactly why this kind of result is damaging. This isn’t just about standing up against discrimination. I hope our stance serves as an example of exactly where this kind of judgment could lead us. Where does it end?”

“It’s been accepted in the highest court in the UK that private companies can accept bookings and then, if they feel that it goes against their morals, refuse that booking if it offends their sensibilities and it not be counted as discriminatory… We had no idea what the case was when the booking was made—we simply see the basic information, date, time, location.”

“We appreciate that this looks like tit for tat, and it is.”

How do we feel about this? Is Perfocal’s tit-for-tat helping? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

h/t: Pink News, Out

UK Plumber Gets Prison Time For Blackmailing Closeted Gay Man

We all know that well-worn porn scenario of the hunky plumber who shows up to fix a ‘leaky faucet’ and then, badda-bing-badda-boom!

Well, a plumber in the UK took that idea and flipped the script a bit by hooking up with a closeted, married gay man and then tried to extort blackmail to keep his secret.

Benjamin Muskett, a 31-year-old in Chester England, pleaded guilty in court to attempting to blackmail a married man over a sexual tryst in the country.

Muskett apparently spent months corresponding with his victim, who was only identified as ‘Mr. X’ in court papers, via a gay hookup site.

The two finally agreed to meet on Sunday, September 2.

According to the Chester Standard, Muskett got into the victim’s car and, after a brief conversation agreed to head out to the country for privacy.

After parking so that they could see any approaching cars, Muskett allowed Mr. X to perform “a sex act” on him in the car.

Along the way there was apparently a bit of pretending to fix a flat tire. Now, there’s a euphemism for you.

Once the deed was done, they headed back to town and parted company.

But then, Muskett contacted Mr. X and told him he’d recorded the sexcapade and wanted £5,000 in cash to keep the closeted man’s secret.

Frightened his friends and family would find out about the meet up, Mr. X contacted the police.

When the police arrested Muskett he admitted he’d never actually recorded the encounter. He eventually told police he has a female partner and children and he needed money to support them.

The judge, who called the crime “particularly vicious because it was planned and deliberate,” sentenced Muskett to 3 years in prison.

(h/t Chester Standard)

Gay U.S. Man Faces Deportation Because A UK Immigration Judge Doesn't Recognize His Marriage

An American-born man may be deported from the UK because a judge doesn’t recognize his legal marriage.

The 41-year-old American-born Brian Page met 36-year-old Ben when they were both on the same train in 2012. The two continued their relationship, with Ben traveling to the US on an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ETSA) visa. The two were married in 2014.

Trouble arrived for the couple when Ben’s mother became ill and the couple flew to the UK to be with her. This time, Brian used an ESTA visa with a valid limit of six months.

Unfortunately, the prolonged illness led to Brian needing to extend his stay. After a four-year battle with the immigration department, one judge has decided that their union only counts as a “civil partnership.”

“It’s crazy,” said Ben to Milton Keynes, “because we’re legally married and this government voted to recognize gay marriage. Yet they are forbidding Brian, my legal husband, to stay here.”

The couple also share that the judge wrote in the determination letter that they should consider moving to Canada.

“Home Office has refused to recognize our 4-year marriage instead calling it a 'partnership'! Also suggested that we could go live in Canada where neither of us has any ties (Yes, she actually said that in her determination letter!),” they wrote online.

Things have also become worse for the couple financially. Not only has Brian, an architect, been unable to work, but the two have sustained large legal expenses (£17,000). In addition, they now need another £1,500 within the next two days or they may be separated for a possible two years.

To help fundraise the amount for an appeal, the two have started up a Go Fund Me page.

As they wrote in the page’s description:

“I never thought we would be here asking for people to help us stay together. We are hard-working people who haven't ever asked for anything from anyone until now. After draining all of our savings over the last 4 years fighting this, we don’t have the money to fight this last bit. I have tried everything to get it in time but they purposely give you 14 days so you don’t have the time. I wish I could borrow the money but I don’t know who else to ask! So we are here. At the worst point for us.”

At the time of this post's publication, the two have raised £920 of the £1,500 goal.

h/t: MK Citizen

UK Study: LGBTs Waiting Later In Life Than Heterosexual Couples To Marry

New data from the UK shows same-sex couples are more likely to marry later in life than heterosexual couples.

Commissioned by the Office of National Statistics in the UK, the study, titled “Being 18 in 2018,” examines different aspects of life for young adults who were born in 2000.

The subjects of the study include life expectancy, employment, becoming parents, and getting married, among many topics.

While couples are allowed to marry in the UK at the age of 18 without parental consent, the statistics show young folks are waiting longer and longer to walk down the aisle.

In 1970, for instance, the average age for women getting married was 22-years-old; and for men, it was 24-years-old.

Of course, that didn’t include any LGBT folks since marriage equality didn’t arrive in the UK until 2014.

Note: same-sex marriage is still not legal in Northern Ireland, although civil partnerships are allowed.

Looking at 2014, the average age of women who married men had risen to 31, and for men marrying women it was 33.

But when it comes to gay and lesbian couples, the average ages are noticeably higher.

The average age of lesbian couples getting hitched as 35, and for gay male couples it was 38.

By 2015, the average age for gay male couples had risen to nearly 40-years-old.

These stats do spark the question: why are LGBTs getting married later in life? Or - put another way - are young people not that drawn to the idea of marriage?

What do you think, readers?

(h/t Gay Star News)