Canada lifts blood ban for gay and bi men, trans donors

Canada will be ending its ban on blood donation for gay/bi men and trans folks, moving away from a forced abstinence period for most queer potential donors.

The nation joins Greece, the UK, Brazil, Iceland and a growing number of countries around the world moving towards individual risk assessment rather than a blanket ban on gay/bi men and trans people donating blood.

Canada’s Prime Minister has labeled the previous policy as “discriminatory and wrong,” while Health Canada have stated the change is a “significant milestone toward a more inclusive blood donation system.”

Here in Australia gay and bisexual men, and some trans folks, are still prohibited from blood donation if they have had sex in the last three months, despite scientific evidence showing many are safe to donate.

Equality advocate Rodney Croome of Just.Equal Australia has welcomed the new Canadian policy, saying it will increase the supply of safe blood and reduce stigma and discrimination.

“Australia is falling behind comparable countries and must replace our gay blood ban with individual risk assessment as soon as possible,” Croome said.

“Canada joins the UK, France, Germany and a number of other countries that have dropped their gay blood bans and adopted individual risk assessment. The global move away from banning gay blood donors is because research shows it reduces the amount of safe blood available.”

“Gay blood bans also fail to ensure maximum safety because the rate of new HIV infection is increasing among heterosexuals and decreasing among gay men.”

The ban is a relic from the HIV/AIDS pandemic of the 1980s and 90s, though Australia’s abolition of the ban on UK residents of the same era giving blood due to Mad Cow Disease raises some questions on the ban’s purpose.

Today the Therapeutic Goods Administration revealed they had given approval for the Red Cross Lifeblood service to accept donations from people who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996.

“If Australia’s blood authorities can lift the Mad Cow ban, the least they can do is conduct a review of the gay ban,” Croome continues.

“If the current gay blood ban continues despite all the evidence against it, the global movement to drop it and an end to other bans like the one linked to Mad Cow disease, the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service risks tarnishing its good reputation.”

OIP Staff

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