Minister for Health Simon Harris has announced that he will act on recommendations to the the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood to a one-year deferral.
“I welcome the recommendation of the IBTS following the Government’s request to review the scientific evidence forming the basis for the lifelong ban from donating blood, which has applied and I have informed the IBTS of my decision to accept their recommendation,” said the Minster in a statement.
“I would like to thank the Chair of the IBTS, Prof Anthony Staines for their work and I have asked that they continue to engage with my officials on the development of a robust implementation plan to support this change in blood donation policy so that the policy change, its rationale and its implications can be well implemented and clearly explained to all potential blood donors, recipients of blood products and the general public.
“Once this is in place it will be possible to set a date from which this policy change will commence.”
The news was tentatively welcomed by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network), who called the move to a one-year deferral “good progress”.
“We welcome the decision by Minister Harris to remove the permanent ban on blood donations by gay men. The ban carried an outdated stigma for all gay and bisexual men that has persisted since the 1980s when it was first introduced,” said GLEN director Brian Sheehan.
“The replacement by a one-year deferral for gay men is good progress and we would expect that this would be kept under close review on the basis of the further scientific evidence and experience from other countries, many of whom have already reduced or will reduce the deferral period further.
Although lauding the move as “good progress” the organisation still spoke out against the discriminatory nature of the one-year referral.
“The one-year deferral period does however still discriminate against many gay and bisexual men because of who they are, when there is no scientific evidence to show that they should be excluded. For example, a male couple in a committed long term relationship will continue to be denied the opportunity to donate blood,” added Shehan.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.