Lo says Health Minister must lift the ban on blood donation by gay men

Alliance South Belfast MLA Anna Lo has said that the Health Minister must do his duty and ensure that Northern Ireland falls into line with the rest of the UK on blood donation by gay men. Her comments were made during an Assembly debate on the High Court ruling which found the Health Minister’s lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was ‘irrational’.

Anna Lo MLA said:”The Health Minister must demonstrate that he accepts the judgement of the courts on this matter, and that he is now willing to do his duty and allow gay men to donate blood which would be in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

“Alliance believes that the current position of the Minister is irrational as he did not follow scientific evidence around blood donations. In 2011, the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs reviewed donor criteria and recommended that the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men was no longer required, and a 12 month deferral period was perfectly safe. This is now the position in the rest of the UK, but regrettably not in Northern Ireland.

“The Minister’s position is also irrational in that blood is imported from the rest of the UK where gay men are allowed to donate blood.

“The Minister will no doubt argue that this is now a matter for the UK Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt. However, that would be a cop out from our Minister as he still retains the authority and capacity to bring the Northern Ireland situation into line with the rest of the UK.

“The Minister has a challenge to prove that he is making decisions on a basis of objectivity, particularly when it comes to the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of our society and also other social issues.”


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