A gay rugby player, seeking asylum in the UK, has been ordered to pay a £219 council tax bill, even though he’s not allowed to work.
Mendip district council sent the Scrooge-like demand to Kenneth Macharia, who is awaiting a Home Office ruling on his request to remain.
The 38-year-old mechanical engineer, who plays for Bristol Bisons, a gay and inclusive rugby club, is fighting deportation.
Gay Star News has been following Macharia’s story as he fights to remain in the UK. He was detained in an immigration centre until last month. He was allowed to leave while the Home Office considers his case.
Online petition supports gay rugby player in battle to remain in UK
An online petition opposing Macharia’s deportation has garnered more than 100,000 signatures to date.
Macharia had been paying council tax for his studio flat in Glastonbury, Somerset until October, the Guardian newspaper reported. He then discovered he could apply for a discount because he was out of work.
Mendip district council says it offers a council tax support discount of up to 80% for a person of working age.
However, a week before Christmas he received a letter from the council withdrawing support. ‘The council has decided that you are not entitled to support because you do not have the right to remain’’ the council wrote.
‘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.’
Asylum seeker forced to live on handouts from 69-year-old mother
Macharia is caught in a catch-22 situation, where he is not allowed to work, but can’t get support until he is destitute.
He is living on handouts from his 69-year-old mother, Jacinta, the Guardian reported. She is working extra shifts as an agency nurse, but suffers from arthritis and lives in sheltered housing.
She’s even paying Macharia’s £365 monthly rent plus other bills while he waits to hear from the Home Office.
Macharia arrived in the UK in 2009 on a student visa. He has twice been granted extensions to remain, as a student and then as a highly skilled migrant.
He claimed asylum in May 2016, arguing that he would be persecuted in Kenya where homosexual activity is illegal.