Northern Ireland’s lifetime ban on gay men donating blood is to be lifted today.
The lifetime ban will instead be replaced with a 12-month deferral system, where men who haven’t had sex with another men in the preceding year, and meet the other creteria, will be eligible to donate blood.
“Surveillance data from England, Scotland and Wales and survey evidence from across Britain and the north of Ireland have provided assurance that the risk is lower with a one-year deferral,” Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said of the new policy.
“My decision is based on the evidence regarding the safety of donated blood.”
In June of this year Minister for Health Simon Harris announced plans to lift Ireland’s lifetime ban on gay men donating blood, following consultations with the Irish Blood Transfusion Board. The lifetime ban will be replaced with a 12-month referral policy.
No date has yet been set for when the policy will change.
The lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was lifted across England, Scotland and Wales in November, 2011, reports BBC.
Although the overturning of the ban is seen as a positive move, the 12-month deferral system has been criticised by LGBT advocates who have noted its discriminatory nature.
“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,” GLEN director Brian Sheehan said in June.
“For example, a male couple in a committed long term relationship will continue to be denied the opportunity to donate blood,” added Shehan.
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