Saturday, September 10, 2011

A welcome end to the lifetime ban on gay blood donations

I was really pleased to hear that finally the unfair lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood would be lifted in the UK .
New rules will be based on science rather than prejudice.  Instead of a lifetime ban there will need to be a 12 month gap between donating blood and a man's last sexual encounter with another man.  This is because there is a three month period after infection with HIV when it cannot necessarily be detected in the blood.  It is vital that we get more people donating blood, and the last thing we should be doing is needlessly discriminating against people whose blood is perfectly safe.
The rules are still much tighter on homosexual men than there are on heterosexual men, who can donate blood regardless of how many sexual partners they have had or whether or not they use condoms, but this is still a real step in the right direction.  
I have been campaigning for the ban to be lifted and recently wrote a question to the European Commission asking about the legality of blanket bans for homosexual men.  Their answer revealed that under EU law such bans are illegal as they are discriminatory and illogical, underlining that "sexual behaviour" is not the same thing as "sexual identity".  I hope that other EU countries with blanket bans will follow the UK 's lead to end the prejudice, and I will continue to put pressure on the Commission to act if they don't.

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