The National LGBT Federation (NXF) have called for a change to the blood donor rules for gay and bisexual men in Ireland. The call comes in the wake of news that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service are experiencing a shortage of blood.
Current Irish rules state that gay and bisexual men need to abstain from sex with another man for a period of at least a year. In December, it was announced that restrictions would be eased in Northern Ireland, as well as across the rest of the UK, to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they had been with one sexual partner for more than three months. These changes will come into effect this summer.
In an interview with The Times, Adam Long, a board member of the NXF, addressed the Irish blood donor rules. Long said, “The current rules governing the donating of blood, whereby gay and bisexual men are required to have abstained from sex for a year before donating, are stigmatising and unnecessary. Blood donation should be based on individual health practices and behaviours, not gender or sexual orientation.”
In a further statement on social media, the NXF shared, “The current rules around blood donation continue to stigmatise gay and bisexual men. As more countries move away from outdated approaches and focus instead on individual risk, the NXF will step up efforts in 2021 to see Ireland follow suit.”
Following the Northern Ireland announcement in December, longtime activist, Tomas Henegan, called for the South to be next. In a piece written for GCN, he shared, “For a third time in just a short number of years, we have fallen far behind Northern Ireland in treating gay and bisexual men who seek to donate blood with dignity and respect.
“From summer 2021, we will be two steps behind our neighbours in the six counties. So, to mirror the now famous ‘The North is next’ sign held up in the crowd at Dublin Castle on 26 May 2018, can we now say the South is next?”
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