Call for State to end ‘discriminatory’ approach to gay, bisexual blood donors

TD says Government should follow UK move to individual risk assessment

Gay men are banned from donating blood in Ireland unless they have abstained from sexual contact for at least 12 months. File photograph: Getty

Gay men are banned from donating blood in Ireland unless they have abstained from sexual contact for at least 12 months. File photograph: Getty

 

A call has been made for the State to move to a “more tolerant” position on blood donations from gay men, who are refused unless they have abstained from sexual contact for at least 12 months.

Labour TD Duncan Smith said “the same criteria do not apply to other blood donors” as he highlighted the move by the UK to change its “discriminatory policies against gay men donating blood”.

Mr Smith called for the Government to intervene and follow the example of Britain and Northern Ireland and end the current discriminatory practice, and instead replace it with an evidence-based individual risk-assessment model for all blood donors.

In the UK previously any male donor could not give blood if they had had sex with another man in the previous three months.

Earlier this month new rules were introduced there to allow gay and bisexual men who have had the same partner for three months or more to donate blood.

The changes are expected to come into force in Northern Ireland in September.

The Dublin Fingal TD who raised the issue with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in the Dáil, noted that a review by the advisory expert group to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is currently under way “but no end date has been given for the delivery of this service”.

Mr Varadkar said the transfusion service makes its decisions based on scientific and medical evidence. “It doesn’t require Government approval as it is not a Government decision,” he said.

“But I would certainly ask the medical people, the scientists and experts in the IBTS to have regard to what is happening in the UK and other countries, where they’re taking a more individual risk-based approach, rather than picking out particular groups.”