A Tasmanian gay man taking on the Red Cross over its blood donation rules is hoping for national policy change after his case was referred to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.
Michael Cain, 23, lodged a complaint with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission last year after being blocked from giving blood to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
Australian Red Cross policy bars men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months from donating blood.
The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has decided the ban justifies investigation, sending the case to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. Hearings are due later in the year.
Cain told Sydney Star Observer he wanted the Red Cross to change its policy across Australia so all gay men could give blood.
It’s great to know that something like this is finally being looked at -¦ so we can get something done about it, he said.
Tasmanian gay activist Rodney Croome claimed the Tribunal case would be a world first.
Never before has a formally constituted case with the power to remove the ban -¦ been asked to consider whether that ban should stay or go, he said.
While the gay blood ban has recently been questioned by major health organisations in the US and Britain they do not have the power to change the policy.
A spokesperson for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said the organisation would not comment while the ban was being investigated.
Cain’s case has already generated controversy. After he lodged his complaint last year, three leading Australian AIDS groups said they supported the Red Cross policy, prompting criticism from Tasmanian activists.
This week, the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) -“ one of the groups that pledged support for the ban last year -“ appeared to have softened its stance.
The 12-month deferral policy for men who have sex with men was put in place many years ago when screening technologies were less advanced, AFAO president Ian Rankin said.
If a review identifies a better way of doing things, we would support reform.