Isle of Man updates blood donation rules after ‘Heartstopper’ plea

The Isle of Man has announced they will be updating their rules around gay men donating blood. The change in policy comes just days after Heartstopper actor Joe Locke labeled the current policy “archaic”.

Locke, who hails from the self-governed British Crown Dependency, pre-recorded a video that was played at a Pride celebration last Saturday.

In the video Locke called out the Manx government for failing to keep up with the science relating to HIV by retaining their AIDS crisis era laws.

He said changing the rules around donating blood would “bring the island one step closer on its journey to acceptance”.

“The Isle of Man to this day does not allow gay men to donate blood, an archaic rule that was placed into force at the height of the AIDS pandemic.

“These rules have slowly changed in the UK… but not on the island.

“In 2014, a consultation into changing the rules was launched, with the outcome being that the policy was under review. This was six years ago and nothing has changed.” Locke said, highlighting the governments slow pace of reform.

The BBC reports that the island will drop the ban and assess all individuals for their sexual risk, a policy that already prevails in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Health Minister Lawrie Hooper said there were several reasons why there had not been action to date, but said the government would update the policy in early 2023.

“Ultimately the aim is absolutely to move to that position of equality where the ability of give blood is based on whether or not the blood is safe to be used,” he said.

The move has been welcomed by campaigner in Australia who would like to see similar action taken. ‘Let Us Give‘ spokesperson, Thomas Buxereau, praised the decision in the Isle of Man.

“We welcome the change of focus in the Isle of Man, from excluding gay men, and bisexual men, trans women and some non-binary people who have sex with men, to assessing the risk of all donors regardless of the gender of their sexual partner.”

“The new policy is fairer and it will open up a new source of safe blood to help those in need.”

“We call on Australia’s blood authorities to follow the lead of the Isle of Man and the UK more generally.” Buxereau said.

The group is encouraging people to sign a petition calling for change in Australia.

In Australia, gay men, and bisexual men, trans women and some non-binary people who have sex with men, must abstain from sex for three months before giving blood. The policy previously required an abstention for 12 months.

Graeme Watson

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