Gay blood donation campaigner Michael Cain is putting on a brave face after a disappointing loss at the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal which upheld the ban on gay blood donors last week.
After four and a half years fighting the case against the Red Cross Blood Service, the Launceston man has vowed to continue his fight.
-œI feel empowered now. I have all this energy to keep it going… just because this is the end of the court case, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the campaign, Cain said.
The Tribunal ruled the Red Cross Blood Service’s refusal to allow Cain to give blood as a gay man was not discrimination and the Red Cross is bound by law to ensure the risk of unsafe blood is as low as possible.
The Tribunal ruled the Red Cross’ policy was -œreasonable and Cain’s proposal to allow low-risk men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) to donate not reliable given evidence before the tribunal it would increase the risk of HIV transmission.
The Tribunal, however, made points in Cain’s favour, asserting the current policy amounts to -œdisadvantage that is real, a matter of substance and not trivial.
The Tribunal also stated evidence given by the Red Cross to prove MSM are at more risk because they are less monogamous is unfounded.
-œThere has been quite a deal of attention given by the Red Cross to the practices within the MSM group.
-œThis attempt to apply data about the practices of some clearly unrepresentative cohorts within the MSM group to all members of the group, as a means of undermining the reliability and commitment of all male-to-male relationships lacks validity, the Tribunal stated in its findings.
Cain told Southern Star he is determinded to produce missing evidence which shows MSM who engage in safe sex would not increase the risk of HIV to the blood supply.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said he was disappointed at the decision, however, the case was still a significant step forward.
-œThe Tribunal accepts Michael’s basic case that some gay sex is safer than other gay sex and some gay men are safer than some heterosexuals who can donate, he said.