Gay blood donor ruling is a 'ban by any other name'


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Indy Politics

The ruling that gay men can donate blood only if they have abstained from sex for a year was dismissed as a 'ban by any other name' at the conference.

The Department of Health said this month that the ban on homosexual men giving blood, first introduced in the 1980s in an effort to stop the spread of Aids, would be lifted on 7 November for those who had been celibate for 12 months.

After the Liberal Democrats backed a motion calling for the ban to be lifted, it looks likely that the Coalition will be forced to revisit the issue. The measure has already been attacked by gay rights groups such as Stonewall.

Conference delegates in Birmingham yesterday lined up to denounce the review carried out by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs. Stephen Gilbert, the MP for Mid-Cornwall, said millions of gay men were being unfairly prevented from giving blood "by the stigma that all men who have sex with men engage in disproportionately risky behaviour".

Calling for increased screening, he added: "Rather than issuing blanket bans, decisions should be based on an assessment of the risk which the behaviour of an individual poses, regardless of whether they sleep with men or women."

Another delegate, Dij Davies, said that although the committee's decision was an improvement, it was "still fundamentally flawed".