A new campaign, which is backed by several MPs, national charities and Stonewall, is calling for a lift on the government’s “draconian” restrictions on gay men donating blood.
The campaign, which is called Freedom to Donate, does have support from Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, as well as Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and also numerous MPs from across the political spectrum. The campaign is demanding the government reconsider the rules put into place in the 1980’s, and are saying that the rules discriminate against gay men who can safely give blood.
While the rules surrounding blood donations have been relaxed slightly, they are still too restrictive as you cannot give blood in the UK if you have had sex with a man within the last year. The campaign is also calling for a review of the blanket ban on anyone who has had sex for money or drugs, or has injected drugs, from donating at any point in their life.
The campaign argues that all of these groups can safely give blood.
There has even been a petition launched for a review of the rules, saying that they are preventing access to direly needed blood supplies and donors. You can view it here.
The need for blood donations is great, as according to statistics 1 in four Britons will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime. Which is worrying when you realise that blood donations in the UK have dropped by 40%.
Several MPs have called the rules “draconian” and “objectionable”.
It has also drawn support from people within the NHS, including Doctor Ranj Singh who spoke in support of the campaign: “Medicine has come a long way in the last five years, particularly in terms of our ability to diagnose and treat an manage HIV and other blood-born viruses. We are in a different place to where we were five years ago, and because of that, we can probably start to bring donation processes in line with them.”
We have even had words of support from a Conservative MP, the Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth & Aireborough who said: “If it hadn’t been for people giving blood, my mother wouldn’t be here today, so I find it objectionable that I can’t do the same. I can’t think of anything else in my everyday life where I am restricted in doing something because of my sexuality.”
The campaign was started by Ethan Spibey, who found he could not donate blood when he attempted to for the first time, due to his sexuality. He said: “That feeling in your stomach when you realise you can’t. It’s shame, you feel shame and guilt, and I just though I have to do something about it. My view on the current regulations is that it could be preventing thousands from donating blood and saving lives. At a time when one in four of us will rely on donated blood at some point in our lives, it’s imperative we look again at who can donate.”
You can check out their website here for more information.