Queensland Pushes For Lifting Gay Blood Ban

Queensland Pushes For Lifting Gay Blood Ban
Image: Queensland's Health Minister Shannon Fentiman (left) and Federal Health Minister Mark Butler. Images: Facebook

Queensland’s Health Minister Shannon Fentiman has called on the federal government to end Australia’s four-decade-old gay blood ban.

Australia put in place the ban on gay blood in the 1980s following the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Currently, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, and trans women who have sex with men, have to abstain from sex for three months before donating blood, including plasma. 

In May, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) lifted a similar four-decade-old ban on blood plasma donations by gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, so that they could donate blood plasma without any waiting period. 

Last month, Labor’s National Conference endorsed a lifting of the blanket ban on gay blood. 

Inclusive Approach To Blood Donations

Queensland’s Health Minister Shannon Fentiman wrote to federal health minister Mark Butler urging “a more inclusive approach to blood donation in Australia”, reported The Guardian.

Fentiman asked the federal health department to consider individual risk assessments for blood donations. 

Gay blood donation advocacy group Let Us Give welcomed Fentiman’s initiative for what it called a “safe and more equitable blood donor system”. 

“Assessing each donor for individual risk will maintain the safety of the blood supply while allowing much-needed donations from gay men, as well as bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men,” Let Us Give campaign spokesperson  Dr Sharon Dane, said in a statement. 

Second-Class Status For Gay Donors

Dr Dane pointed to countries like Canada, the US and the UK lifting their gay blood ban and moving to individual risk assessment. 

“We urge federal health minister, Mark Butler, to listen to Queensland’s health minister, Shannon Fentiman, and move to adopt individual risk assessment as soon as possible. We also urge the other states and territories to follow Queensland’s lead and support this overdue reform,” said Dr Dane. 

Let Us Give said it was not in favour of Red Cross Lifeblood’s proposal to allow gay men to only donate blood plasma. 

“The Red Cross Lifeblood’s proposal for gay men to be able to donate plasma but not whole blood will entrench a second-class status for gay donors,” said Dr Dane. 

“The problems of a two-tiered donor system were identified by Canadian research and was one of the reasons Canada abandoned its plasma-only trial and moved to individual risk assessment for whole blood donation instead. Plasma-only donation will be to blood donation what civil unions were to marriage equality, a poor substitute for equity and fairness,” Dr Dane added.

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One response to “Queensland Pushes For Lifting Gay Blood Ban”

  1. ima lapsed blood and plasma donor having first given when i was 19 – – ive donated 30 whole blood and 11 plasma – – ima calling out all discrimination by the red cross blood bank system against gay donors – – simply, the RCBTS is cruel and unfair to its current and lapsed donors and treats us like a third – class citizenry, a resource to be plundered without any thought for the future and like fleabags who can be treated like dirt. yours in transgender ollie brooks Xx :-J