By Connie Osborne Thursday 24 October 2013 Updated: 25/10 07:54
ASKING gay people to prove they have not had sex for over a year before they can donate blood has been branded ‘homophobic’ by a Redditch county councillor.
Coun Joe Baker claimed the NHS Blood and Transplant Service’s policy prevented gay men who wanted to give blood from doing so as it would be too difficult to prove they had abstained from sex.
A total ban on gay men giving blood was lifted in 2011 but he argued under the current legislation homosexual men were still being treated unfairly due to their sexuality.
“Now I think it would be quite difficult for anybody to prove they haven’t had sex for 12 months,” he told a meeting of Worcestershire County Council last Thursday (October 17).
“But what I would like to do is turn it on its head a little bit and say how would you feel, everyone of us, if the blood donation service said because Worcestershire had a high level of promiscuity no one could donate blood unless they could prove they had not had sex for 12 months.”
He added although he appreciated the needs of the blood transfusion service, he wanted the council to call for the legislation to be changed.
“So what’s the county council going to do to put some equality within the blood transfusion network and deal with getting rid of this archaic law of gay men donating blood.”
Coun Marcus Hart, responsible for health and well being, said Coun Baker raised an interesting moral point but the county council were bound by national legislation.
“I think it goes without saying and it is unequivocally clear the people in this chamber, and indeed this organisation as a county council is not in anyway homophobic but I will write to the relevant organisation and express the sentiments of this chamber.”
Dr Gail Miflin, associate medical director blood donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The current guidelines for donating blood are not applied on the basis of sexuality but due to specific sexual behaviours. Men who have sex with men as a group have been shown to be at a statistically increased risk of acquiring blood-borne viruses in the UK.
“Our priority is to keep the blood stocks safe for recipients and donation safe for donors, so for this reason we ask some groups of people not to donate for a certain amount of time.”
She added they asked all donors to adhere to the selection criteria and give completely honest answers to all questions.
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