Further student protests at gay blood discrimination

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Inequality in the Scottish blood transfusion service is being highlighted this week with a series of events being held by students across Scotland.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dunfermline and Kilmarnock will all see events held outside blood transfusion venues on 9 March, where students will urge members of the public to give blood because gay and bisexual men are banned from doing so. Scotland needs 1,000 blood donations per day to keep up with demand.

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service does not accept blood donations from men who have ever had sex with another man. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Campaign of the National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland believes that this policy discriminates against gay and bisexual man based on their sexuality.

They feel the policy fails to recognise that it is a person’s lifestyle that makes them high risk, not their sexual identity.

Students across the UK are involved in the campaign and several colleges and universities have held local events to highlight the campaign, including Edinburgh University and Robert Gordon University in Scotland. Many more students’ associations, including those at Paisley University, the University of Abertay Dundee and Stirling University, are to hold events on campus to coincide with the Scottish day of action on 9 March. These events are all to raise public awareness of the campaign and to encourage more people to give blood.

NUS Scotland’s campaign is supported by influential figures including Patrick Harvie MSP, Dr Elaine Murray MSP and Peter Tatchell, the prominent gay rights campaigner.

NUS Scotland LGBT Officer, Scott Cuthbertson, said today: “The blanket ban on all gay and bisexual men is simply not appropriate and perpetuates the myth that HIV/AIDS is a ‘gay disease’. It assumes that all gay and bisexual men are high-risk, whereas in reality it is someone’s sexual practices, not their sexuality, that makes them high risk.”

“We are calling for the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service to reassess this homophobic policy and revise the rules in order to allow healthy gay and bisexual men to donate blood. Other countries such as Australia and Spain have changed their policies in this respect and it is time for Scotland to do the same.”

According to The Blood Transfusion Service, gay men are in a high risk group and it is safer for them not to give blood.