Newly released data from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has revealed GBT+ people were rejected from donating blood 70 times within the span of two years.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Irish Examiner obtained figures detailing queer men being turned away from donating blood between 2017 and 2019. They were refused on the grounds that they had sex with other men in the previous 12 months.
In January 2017, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service lifted the lifelong blood donation ban on GBT+ people. It was replaced with the implementation of a one-year deferral period.
As a result of the deferral system, GBT+ people were denied access to donating blood 70 times throughout the last two years. During 57 of these rejections, they were told to wait another 12 months. 13 refusals were followed by a queer person receiving a lifelong ban from further donations.
Activist Tomás Heneghan has previously critiqued the changes to blood donation laws for GBT+ people, stating it has “certainly not gone far enough.” He said, “I found myself in the High Court as a 23 year-old, fighting the state simply to be able to perform my civic duty and engage in this extremely important act to help improve and save lives.”
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, LGBT+ rights officer of Trinity College’s students union, Thomas O’Neill, called the current law discriminatory. He said, “I think we should reduce it to an individual risk assessment because someone could engage in a sexual act before they are able to give blood within the 12 month period but they could be completely healthy.”
“The main reason they had the first complete ban was because of the HIV/AIDS crisis.” O’Neil further stated, “It’s a virus so it doesn’t attack someone specifically because of who they are, it just goes for whoever it can.”
The TCDSU LGBT+ rights officer has previously launched a campaign on removing the restrictions placed upon GBT+ people. During a Council meeting, O’Neil stated that the system “doesn’t match with 21st century standards.”
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