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Greens call for an end to gay blood donation bans

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The Australian Greens are calling for a review of the long-standing deferral period which disallows gay men and men who have sex with men to give blood for 12 months after engaging in sexual activity.

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The party’s LGBTI spokesperson Senator Robert Simms says he has written to Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson calling for the current blanket policy to be reassessed.

“This is a policy that’s being applied to people based on their sexuality,” Senator Simms told OUTinPerth.

“Really, the decision around whether or not someone should be donating blood should be based on the evidence. Has someone has engaged in unprotected sex? If so, it’s not appropriate for them to give blood – whether it’s heterosexual or gay sex, the same policy should be applied.”

The current deferral period prevents males who have had oral or anal sex with another man, whether they used protection or not, from giving blood for a year.

A review committee established by the Red Cross Blood Service recently called for the deferral period to be reduced to six months, citing the improvements in medical testing for HIV over the years.

“The Red Cross Blood Service, The Kirby Institute, The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations all called on the Therapeutic Goods Administration to lower the deferral period to six months,” Senator Simms said.

Senator Simms says a six months period is better than the status quo, but his greatest concern is to remove discrimination from the process.

“Why should gay men who are practising safe-sex be prevented from donating blood?” Senator Simms said, “Your capacity to donate blood shouldn’t be determined by your sexuality.”

Leigh Hill

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