Labor Party Votes Towards Ending Gay Blood Ban

Labor Party Votes Towards Ending Gay Blood Ban
Image: Luann Hunt/Unsplash

The Australian Labor Party has voted towards adopting individual risk assessments for all blood donations, aiming to end the gay blood ban.

During Labor’s National Conference in Brisbane, delegates supported a motion allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood without needing to be sexually abstinent for a time period beforehand.

On Saturday, Tasmanian delegate, Benjamin Dudman, and Labor Equality spokesperson, Ella Haddad introduced the motion. Passing successfully, Dudman thanked the Health Minister and Assistant Health Minister in supporting the reform.

It will now be the responsibility for the Albanese Government to effectively reverse the ban with respective groups, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Australian Red Cross.

Advocates Welcome Plans

The Let Us Give initiative, who have been advocating for the new policy, have expressed gratitude towards delegate’s support.

Spokesperson for the campaign, Rodney Croome, says “Ending the gay blood ban and adopting individual risk assessment will mean there is more safe blood for those in need and will make the blood supply less discriminatory.”

Croome says the vote is “an important step towards Australia also adopting the principle of non-discrimination in blood policy.” The US, UK and Germany have previously implemented similar methods, focusing on individual risk assessments for all donations.

“We thank Labor’s conference delegates for passing a motion recognising the need for a new blood donation policy… instead of the current policy of imposing a three-month sexual abstinence period on gay men, and bisexual men and transgender women who have sex with men,” Croome continued.

Croome announced the group will continue to lobby with government members to ensure the ban is dropped “as quickly as possible.”

Lifeblood “Plasma Only” Proposal

The vote towards ending the ban follows proposals from Lifeblood that would allow gay men to donate plasma but not whole blood.

Croome called the policy a “bad substitute,” saying it would entrench a “second-class donor status” on donors.

“We urge Lifeblood to abandon its plasma-only proposal and go directly to international best-practice, which is individual risk assessment for all donors,” Croome continued.

No time period or formal commitment has been given by the Labor Government for when the new blood policy will be introduced.

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