The chances that Britain will soon end its lifetime ban on gay men giving blood have increased with the election of a Conservative-Liberal Democrats coalition Government, as the leaders of both parties oppose the ban.
Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron told Attitude magazine in February that he was persuaded by the evidence that it was time for a change in policy.
“It sounds perfectly logical and sensible to make the change,” Cameron said. “Logic would dictate that it’s time to change.”
Before the election the Conservatives also promised they would “consider” extending full marriage rights to same-sex couples, while offering people in civil partnerships the same tax breaks as married couples.
Cameron also promised to erase convictions for gay men who were arrested before homosexuality was decriminalised or when unequal ages of consent still applied.
Some of those men are still listed on the UK’s Sex Offender Registry where their details can be found by potential employers.
Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats have been calling for the repeal of the ban on gay men donating blood since 2006, and went even further than the Conservatives in their commitments to GLBTI voters in their election manifesto.
Britain’s National Blood Service is carrying out a periodic review of its policy, the results of which will be released in the next few months.
If that review recommends an end to the ban, it may add to the pressure on the Australian Red Cross to end its ban on gay men donating which requires them to abstain from sex for a year before it deems them safe donors.
The Australian Red Cross’ manager of external communications, Nicolas McGowan, told Sydney Star Observer that overseas developments would be considered in determining its policy.
“We take into careful consideration the latest scientific and medical research from within and outside Australia,” McGowan said.
However, McGowan could not give a start date for the Australian Red Cross’ policy review other than to repeat that it would occur “in the next 12 months”.
Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced it had begun a review process in preparation for lifting its gay blood donation ban.