SNP members urged to back calls to end ban on gay blood donors

SNP members are to debate calls to remove a ban on sexually active gay men donating blood.

Sexually active gay men are currently banned from giving blood. Picture: Julie Bull
Sexually active gay men are currently banned from giving blood. Picture: Julie Bull

Rules introduced in 2011 prevent gay men who have had sex in the past 12 months from giving blood, regardless of their relationship status and despite all blood donations already being screened for illnesses including HIV/Aids.

A motion calling on the SNP to back efforts to change the rules government blood donations will be discussed tomorrow at the party’s conference in Glasgow.

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The motion, put forward by the party’s Leith branch, says the rules on blood donations should no longer be based “on a blanket assumption based on sexuality”.

Rules implemented by the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service are currently under review by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, the body that makes recommendations on the safety of the blood supply across the UK.

A complete ban on donations by gay men, imposed during the Aids crisis in the 1980s, was only relaxed in 2011, when the current regime was introduced.

Stonewall Scotland said safety measures for blood donation should be based purely on risk factors, not on sexual orientation.

“A system that asks everyone the same questions to accurately assess risk of infection would increase blood stocks and create a safer supply,” a spokeswoman said.

MSPs from every party backed a motion in the Scottish Parliament last month calling for the rules to be reviewed.

Campaigners including Peter Tatchell have argued for the length of the restrictions on gay men to be cut to three months, and criticised the lack of scrutiny of safe-sex practices in screening of potential donors.

The issue was highlighted recently in the US, where the same restrictions are in force, following the deadly gun attack in June on a nightclub in Orlando targeting the gay community. Many of those who wanted to give blood were unable to do so.