Gay blood ban row moves to Scottish parliament

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A petition is being prepared for submission to the Scottish Parliament calling for a repeal to the ban the prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood in the UK.

Rob McDowall, the creator of the petition, told

“Being gay doesn’t prevent me from paying tax, using public transport or working in a responsible position, full time, so why should it prevent me from giving the gift of life?”

“The culture of binge drinking, multiple sexual partners and the acceptance of “the male player” stereotype is all playing part in the massive increase of HIV and AIDS amongst the heterosexual community.”

The Scottish Blood Transfusion Service maintains that it is not a question of being gay or bisexual but the risk involved.

Mr McDowall maintains that this is ‘nonsense’ “blood has no sexual preference and being gay does not mean that you sleep about and have serial sexual partners.”

The petition has been supported by MSP Ross Finnie, member for the West of Scotland.

He has submitted a series of questions to the Scottish Executive’s Health minister asking her to seek a review of the EU blood directives that prevent gay and bisexual men from giving blood in Scotland and whether preventing gay and bisexual men from giving blood is necessary to ensure a safe blood supply.

Mr Finnie wants to know if the Executive has concerns about the strictness of the rules applicable to heterosexual blood donors.

The UK’s National Blood Service (NBS) bars men who have had sex with other men from donating blood, even if they used a condom.

A statement on their website says: “It is specific behaviours, rather than being gay, which places gay men at increased risk of HIV infection.

“Safer sex will keep most gay men free from infection, however research shows that allowing gay men as a group to donate blood would increase the risk of HIV infected blood entering the blood supply.

“Abolishing the rule for gay men would increase the risk of HIV infected donations entering the blood supply in England by about five times, and changing the rule to allow gay men to donate one year after they last had sex with another man would increase the risk by 60 per cent.”

Mr McDowall has set up a group on the Bebo social networking site to publicise his cause and there is also a group on Facebook entitled Donation not Discrimination.

“The NBS policy in the UK is discriminatory, offensive and outdated,” he said.

“More work should be put into creating a behavioural profile of each individual donor and taking individual sexual behaviour and habits into consideration. Not a blanket ban, that, is not the answer to the massive shortage in blood stocks.”

If you would like to sign the petition you can do so here.