Thursday, 8 September 2011

A step forward but still blood discrimination

So the government's Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood has decided that men who have not had sex with other men can give blood after 12 months. This brings them into line with the rule on women who have had sex with men who have had sex with other men (of course that depends if they are aware that a men they have slept with was bisexual).

However, such a rule change is still discriminatory. There is still an exclusion on monogamous homosexuals who are in long term relationships, while promiscuous heterosexuals are allowed to give blood. Also the ban on men who have sex with other men includes those who do so orally or anally with or without a condom. Yet there is no request of heterosexuals on whether they practise safe sex or not. The only exception is using prostitutes, or sleeping with someone from sub-Saharan Africa when it comes to sexual practise.

What we are looking for is a rule change based on practise rather than carte blanche ban. While this new rule is good to those men who are bisexual, or had a one off experiment in their youth it still discriminates against those gay men who couple up monogamously, who constantly practise safe sex, providing they are sexually active.

If you think it is not discriminatory to ban man who have sex from other men from having sex think of those who work in an office that brings a blood transfusion van unto the site. They ask employees to sign up for sessions, yet every time some healthy men are not putting their name forward. They are constantly being asked by colleagues why. The reason of course is that they know they cannot give blood under these rules, but they have to come out to people who aren't their direct colleagues as a result.

Practise not pretence should be the only rules governing the giving of blood. If a gay man has a history of clean bloods and a history of safe sex they should not be prevented from giving blood, while men who father four children from four random one night stands are able to give.

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