“Discriminatory” Canadian blood ban to be lifted

The Canadian Department of Health has authorised the removal of the three-month deferral period for men who have sex with men from donating blood.

Canadian authorities are to lift a blood ban on GBMSM from donating. The photograph shows an arm with tubes and needles for extracting blood.
Image: @kristenterlizzi via Twitter

The Canadian government is to remove a discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men and men who have sex with men (GBMSM) from donating blood.

Currently, GBMSM are prohibited from donating blood for up to three months from their last sexual interaction with another man. The new measures to eliminate the donor deferral period, proposed by the Canadian Blood Services, were authorised by Health Canada yesterday.

In a statement, the government department said “Today, Health Canada authorized a submission from Canadian Blood Services to eliminate the current three-month blanket donor deferral period for all sexually active men who have sex with men, and instead screen all donors, regardless of gender or sexuality, for high-risk sexual behaviours.”

They went on, “Under the new screening approach, Canadian Blood Services will introduce a sexual behaviour-based donor-screening questionnaire that will apply to all donors of blood and plasma.”

The new questionnaire-based process has become the preferred practice in countries like the UK, France and Greece after they lifted similar bans. It is also due to be implemented in Ireland by the end of 2022.

In the statement, Canadian Blood Services indicated that the new screening approach is expected to be implemented by September 30, 2022.

Over the last ten years, Canada has gradually reduced the deferral period for men who have sex with men. In 2013, they dropped the lifetime ban to a five-year restriction. In 2016 they reduced this to one year and in 2019 to three months.

Canadian Blood Services described the move as “a significant milestone toward a more inclusive blood donation system nationwide, and builds on progress in scientific evidence made in recent years.” 

Following the announcement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted “We promised to end the blood donation ban for men who have sex with men. Our government-funded research projects necessary to make this happen. And now, this discriminatory practice will come to an end”.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.