8,000 call for end to gay blood ban

4 Aug

The petition calling for the removal of the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood has closed today having received more than 8,000 signatures.

Launched a year ago, the call to end the ban was backed by a number of politicians, the LGBT groups of political parties and other LGBT organisations.

Tom King, who created the petition, said it was a “fantastic achievement”.

“In the past year the campaign to end the gay blood ban has come so far, we’ve had leaflets on stalls at university freshers’ fayres across the country, there’s been coverage in national newspapers, the Liberal Democrats made opposition to the ban their official policy and today 8,082 people have called on the Government to end this ban once and for all.” Mr King said.

“The move to a 12 month deferral was a small step forward but for sexually active gay and bisexual men it is a ban in all but name and it was a decision entirely lacking in scientific foundation.”

The petition called for a blanket ban on ‘men who have sex with men’ to be replaced with individual risk-based donor screening.

“The current screening procedures group gay and bisexual men together as if they form a uniform risk to the blood stocks. A sensible, scientific and evidence-based donor screening policy would assess the risk of an individual’s sexual behaviour, without reference to their sexual orientation.” Tom King added.

Your views on the blood ban

2 Apr

“I don’t know a single gay or bisexual man who doesn’t ache when he sees or hears a blood donation advert, knowing he can’t donate unless sworn to a year of abstinence. The gay blood ban is one of the most illogical forms of discrimination against gay and bisexual men, which costs lives, all in the name of ideology. We apparently live in a society where we are treated as equals before the law, but this ban continues to allow discrimination and bigotry against gay and bisexual men to persist, and sends signals that gay blood is simply not as good” Calum Sherwood, LGBT Officer, University of Bristol Students’ Union

“If we allow ourselves to be stagnated by the stain of a historical stigma, there is no hope for us to ever look forward.” – Alex Sturmey, @fantasticuser, 19, student

“As a former blood donor myself, I think its terrible that I can no longer help out due to my orientation. We always need more blood, and it’s ludicrous to exclude a segment of the population when there’s no scientific basis for doing so – ALL donations are rigorously tested as standard. Other countries have adopted a risk-based approach rather than a blanket ban, such as Italy, Poland and Spain, and it works for them…” – Nate P. Barker, @thenpb, 24, lives in Camden and identifies as bisexual

“ban facilitates misinformation & discriminative myths about the sexual health of MSM, reinforcing prejudice & ignorance” – Kim, @Kimmysut

“I’m delighted to support this petition. It’s not a call to bring back the death penalty or to remove benefits from folks with unruly kids. Its’s a petition to save lives by removing an archaic and prejudiced restriction on donating blood to those who desperately need it.” – Pete West, @Sirwestywest, 42, poet and occasional office worker, living in Leith, Scotland

“I fully support ending the gay blood ban; not enough people who are allowed to give blood do, and it seems ridiculous to ban those who are willing and physically able to give blood from saving lives.” – Keziah Morely, 19, student, living in London

“I oppose the msm blood ban because it treats an entire section of the population as having a static risk of infection despite there being little basis for believing so. most ludicrously, the policy would exclude an entirely committed couple (just because they were both guys) but not someone with many sexual partners, who is obviously the most large risk.” Kevin McNamara, @woollymindedlib

“To be effectively told that my blood isn’t ‘good enough’ to donate is not only an insult, but a disgusting reminder of an archaic concept of societal structure based on intolerance and delusion. For medical practice in 2012 Britain to still operate in this was is, frankly, shameful.” – Michael Eakins, @Mikeeakins

“The NHS needs all the blood they can get, and all blood is screened for HIV/Aids. Also homosexuals are not the only transmitters so the ban seems rather odd.” – Jack Ashton, @JackSGAshton

“It should be based on science not prejudice!” – Jon Karra, @jonkarra

“The blood ban is one of the biggest threats to LGBTQ liberation still remaining in this country. It represents an archaic and mythological understanding of queer healthcare that needs to be addressed.There have been breakthroughs in this campaign in recent times but we cannot afford to be complacent when lives are at risk. It needs to end; today.” – Aaron Spence, @AaronLSpence, 21, LUSU LGBTQ Chair 2011

Please contribute your views on the blood ban; either as a comment under this post, by emailing us or by sending us a tweet to @stopgaybloodban 

Why I support this ‘petition to save lives’

2 Apr
“I’m a bit squeamish; I don’t like needles. But if I have to have a blood sample taken, I squirm and bear it.
Often, when working in offices, an email goes round: the blood truck’s coming next Tuesday and we’re setting up a rota for those who want to go out and donate.
I watch my colleagues pop down and contribute. They reappear, full of tales of dizziness and cups of tea, proud of their gift. And I stay at my desk; not on the rota.
Why? Not because I’m scared. Nervous, maybe, but I’d squirm and bear it for the benefit of my fellow man. No, it’s because I’ve occasionally had sex with my fellow man. (Not as often as I’d like, mind. As Alan Bennett once remarked, there’s been something of both in my life, but not enough of either).
It’s always annoyed me – that I’m denied the opportunity to help save lives for entirely spurious reasons. Also, while I’ve always been happy to explain to my colleagues why I’m not giving blood – that indeed I’m offensively banned from doing so due to my sexuality – I feel for those who for whatever reason are uncomfortable with discussing their orientation at work.

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Opposition to the blood ban becomes Lib Dem policy

20 Sep

The Liberal Democrat’s annual conference has backed a motion opposing restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

The motion will now become Liberal Democrat policy and will impact on how the party’s ministers can act in Government. It follows the Government accepting SaBTOs recommendation that sexually active gay and bisexual men be excluded from donating blood for one year.

The restrictions apply to men who have had sex with men, regardless of whether protection was used or not.

Chris Ward of Liberal Democrats Against the Blood Ban said “The criteria as it stands does not protect the blood bank adequately”. The motion calls for donor criteria to be based “on the risk posed by behaviour of the individual, not their membership of a certain societal grouping” and Mr Ward said that this would “ensure much better protection for blood transfusion patients as well as adding a potential two million new donors”.

Speaking in favour of the motion Dij Davies pointed out the inconsistency in the current criteria, saying “either safe sex works or it does not”. He shared with the conference a personal story where he was prevented from donating blood to his own mother. Matthew Folker pointed out that the motion will better protect the blood stocks by demanding better blood testing and restricting donor screening.

Bringing the debate to a close, Chris Ward said “This ban has the potential to kill more people than gay blood ever will” before urging conference to back the motion.

It remains to be seen if the motion will impact on the Government’s decision to  impose a one year deferral on sexually active gay and bisexual men.


							

New leaflets to download

8 Sep

Have your got a stall at Freshers’ Week? Or organising an LGBT event?

We’ve prepared a leaflet you can download and print off to help spread the word about the petition. We’d love you to help us get more signatures working towards the 100,000 threshold.

You can download the leaflet here.

Drop us an email to let us know how you get on stopthegaybloodban@gmail.com and if you have any problems downloading from the link above just send us an email and we’ll forward the file.

 

 

New gay blood donation criteria a “ban by any other name”

8 Sep

Joint Press Release – 8th Sept 2011
Chris Ward, co-Founder: Lib Dems Against The Blood Ban
Tom King, author of Government E-Petition to end the blood ban, Labour Party Activist

Lib Dem Conference motion proposed by Chris Ward to demand the government go further to protect the blood bank and open it up to responsible gay and bisexual donors.

Activists against the ban on gay blood donations from both Labour and the Liberal Democrats today criticised the new SaBTO conclusions on donor selection for men who have had sex with men (MSM). The announcement comes just over a week before Lib Dem Conference will debate it in Birmingham.

Today, the Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood, Tissue and Organs (SaBTO) published recommendations from their review on donor selection that the lifetime ban on gay/bisexual men from donating blood should be lifted and replaced with a 12 month deferral. This essentially means that a man is banned from giving blood for 12 months every time he has sex with another man.

Chris Ward, founder of Lib Dems Against the Blood Ban, said:
“We have campaigned very hard on this within the Lib Dems and it is obvious that the noise we have made over the past two years has forced Ministers to act. Although the new criteria has benefits for men who rarely have sex with men or did so once many years ago, this change does not go far enough. It still bans active gay and bisexual men from donating blood, it still does so on the basis of unscientific criteria. Under these new proposals, a man who has protected sex with a man today will be unable to give blood for 12 months, whereas a heterosexual man who has prolific levels of unprotected sex with a number of women last week can give blood today – there is nothing scientific or logical about that.”

He added, “We demand criteria based on the risk of the individual. The proposed criteria will not protect the blood bank and it is absurd that still no provisions have been made to demand that those who have risky sex must have been tested before they give blood. This is a gay blood ban by any other name.”

New criteria insists that a man who has had anal or oral sex with another man cannot give blood for another 12 months.

Tom King, author of the e-Government petition to end the gay blood ban said:
“Today’s announcement shows that the political pressure being applied is having an effect – not least because the recommendations on MSM donors have been announced ahead of SaBTO’s full review. Whilst a step at 12 month deferral is a step in the right direction, it is still discriminatory and wholly unscientific. On the face of it, it seems the change is a big difference, but realistically for active gay and bisexual men it will be as if the lifetime ban remains.”

He added, “The petition I posted on the Government’s website calls for the current donor screening to be replaced with new scientific criteria based on the risk of an individual’s behaviour and has already attracted thousands of signatures. The final say on this matter rests with the Government and I urge them to abandon outdated prejudice and to press ahead with an evidence-based blood donor policy.”

[ENDS]

Disclaimer: This is a joint press release between principle blood ban activists from the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties. We are committed to a bi-partisan approach to ending the unscientific ban on gay/bisexual men and their partners from donating blood.


							

European Commission: Banning gay men from donating blood is against EU law

8 Sep

The European Commission has affirmed that EU Law does not warrant widespread bans on gay and  bisexual men donating blood.

The European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy said in response to a question from Members of the European Parliament that EU allowed for deferrals “at high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases” due to their “sexual behaviour”. Mr Dalli stressed that “‘sexual behaviour’ is not identical with ‘sexual orientation’”

Co-President of  European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, Michael Cashman MEP said “Commissioner John Dalli reminds Member States that it is individuals who are at risk—not groups. Being gay or bisexual cannot automatically pose a threat to public health; but risky sexual behaviour in men or women, gay or straight, is a real risk.” He added that he hoped British Government would “prefer scientific evidence to prejudice” in making decisions on blood donor policy.

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Member of the Committee on Public Health commented that “health ministers must bear in mind that sexual orientation, ethnic background and other identity traits are fully irrelevant to a person’s health. Denying blood donation from these groups is discriminatory and goes fully against logic.”

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