The UK gay blood ban was lifted on Monday, coinciding with the World Blood Donor Day campaign this week. Equality advocates are using the opportunity to apply pressure to the Australian Lifeblood Service to follow suit.
Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said, “The UK approach is win-win because it means there will be more safe blood for those in need, and less stigma and discrimination faced by those gay, bisexual and transgender people who have been unfairly excluded.”
“Risk of infection with HIV and other diseases through blood transfusion arises from the safety of a donor’s sexual activity, not the gender of their sexual partner, and the UK policy recognises this fact by shifting to an assessment of each individual’s risk.”
APAUZ — Push for Australia to follow UK's new policy for gay blood donors: Australia's blood donation authorities should follow the lead of their UK counterparts and lift blanket bans on gay men donating blood, LGBTIQ … https://t.co/CpGVISnWJP
— Stigmabase | AS (@PairsonnalitesA) June 15, 2021
As reported in the Star Observer in October last year, it was announced at the time that Australia was changing it’s draconian 12 month celibacy rule, which went into effect in January this year. That change now means that Australian Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) only need to be able to sign that they’ve had three months of celibacy, meaning abstaining from anal or oral sex, before they can give blood.
UK Gay Blood Ban gone
United Kingdom has changed its rules and “All blood donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, will now be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.”
Under previous rules in the UK, all men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months in order to donate.
The Economist has published this handy chart showing where gay and bisexual men cam donate blood and where we can’t.https://t.co/eA5W2WZ9ZB
— Rodney Croome (@RodneyCroome) June 15, 2021
Croome wants the rules in Australia to align more closely with the UK model, which takes an individual risk assessment approach to accepting blood donations.
Croome said that, “in the wake of developments in the UK and other countries we will increase our advocacy in Australia.”
“Our goal is to have the blanket ban on gay blood donation lifted well before World Blood Donation Day 2022, and replaced with a new policy of screening all donors for the safety of their sexual activity.”