Has completely removing the celibacy period for blood donations been considered?

LGBTIQ equality advocates continue to push for Australia’s federal, state and territory governments to lift the celibacy requirement for gay, bisexual and transgender people who want to give blood.

National advocacy group, just.equal, has written to all Australia’s health ministers asking how they responded to the proposal made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in April to reduce the gay, bi and trans celibacy period from twelve months to three.

They want to know if Health Minister gave any consideration to completely removing the requirement that men who have sex with other men cannot give blood unless they’ve spent a period being celibate.

just.equal spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said even when the time period is reduced it will still be discriminatory.

“The many Australians who are barred from blood donation unless they abide by a discriminatory celibacy requirement, deserve to know if their health minister is representing their concerns.”

“Australians in need of blood transfusion also deserve to know whether policies that reduce the amount of available blood are being properly scrutinised by their elected representatives.” Croome said.

“Our elected officials have a duty to ensure science is the basis for public policy, not out-dated stereotypes and prejudices.”

Due to the number of federal, state and territory laws dealing with blood donation, all health ministers are asked to respond to all proposals to change blood donor rules.

When the Therapeutic Goods Administration proposed a reduction in the celibacy period, just.equal wrote to all health ministers with a set of questions to ask the TGA about the science behind the proposal and whether removing the celibacy period had been considered. Now, the group wants health ministers to publicly disclose if they asked these questions, what they asked and if there was a response from the TGA.

In its correspondence to health ministers, just.equal also sent a declaration against the existing gay, bi and trans blood ban that has been signed by around 100 Australian doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The declaration can be found here.

just.equal seeks the lifting of the current celibacy requirement for gay, bi and trans people and its replacement with individual risk assessment.

The TGA has ruled that the amount of time people have to abstain from sex can be reduced from 12 months to 3 months, but Lifeblood have previously told OUTinPerth they cannot implement the change until 2021.

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