A gay doctor from Australia has hit out at the “old prejudice” that still prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood.
In Australia – as is the case in many countries – gay and bisexual men must remain celibate for a three month period before they can give blood.
This week, 70 medical professionals banded together with LGBT+ advocacy group just.equal and signed a declaration calling for the ban to be scrapped.
Gay doctor Nick McIntosh is one of the signatories. In a video message, he slammed the discriminatory policy, and called for it to be scrapped immediately.
Gay doctor Nick McIntosh wants Australia to scrap its ‘stigmatising’ blood donation ban for gay and bisexual men.
“As a doctor, I’m dedicated to saving lives. As a gay man though, I can’t actually donate blood,” McIntosh said in the video.
“I think the current gay blood ban needs to be lifted and in its place individual risk assessments for all potential blood donors.”
He continued: “The science says that would give us a safer blood supply and there’d be more blood available for saving lives.
“I really don’t like being stigmatised against. Who would? But more than anything, I don’t like old prejudice standing in the way of a safer and more plentiful blood supply for everyone.”
As a doctor, I’m dedicated to saving lives. As a gay man though, I can’t actually donate blood.
He concluded: “Let me and other gay Australians give the gift of life.”
Various countries across the world introduced blood donation bans on gay and bisexual men in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
While significant strides have been made in the treatment and prevention of HIV, blood donation bans remain in place across the world.
Instead of lifting the bans, many countries have instead opted to change them to “deferral periods” which require gay and bisexual men to remain celibate for a designated period of time before they can donate blood.
LGBT+ activists say the recent change to celibacy requirements are just ‘window dressing’.
Rodney Croome of just.equal said: “Research from countries that moved from banning gay, bisexual and transgender donors to individual risk assessment clearly shows the blood supply is safer, more plentiful and less discriminatory as a result.”
Croome urged medical professionals in Australia who believe the ban should be scrapped to sign their declaration.
“We will present the declaration to Australia’s health ministers, as part of the current consideration of the changes to blood donor policy.”
He said the recent decision to cut the celibacy requirement from a year to three months was “window dressing” and said the new policy would continue to stigmatise LGBT+ donors.
“Only fear and prejudice stop Australia moving to individual risk assessment,” he said.