Red Cross tactics attacked as gay blood tribunal hears closing submission

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal has finished its hearings into the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood and will now consider the thousands of pages of evidence.

Michael Cain, who was refused the opportunity to donate blood in 2004 when he revealed to Red Cross staff he was in a sexual relationship with another man, brought the case.

His counsel, Peter Tree SC, said in his closing submission that the Red Cross has exaggerated the HIV risk associated with male-to-male sex.

“The Red Cross has played on fear of infection, fear of the unknown, and fear of harm, none of which are borne out by the available evidence,” he said.

Mr Cain said he believes he has had a fair and just hearing from the tribunal.

“Sometimes I feared the avalanche of material presented by the Red Cross would obscure the basic message that HIV is passed on by unsafe sex not gay sex, but I think we have been able to expose the irrelevance of most of this material and keep the focus where it belongs, on the need for more safe blood,” he said.

The tribunal is not expected to issue a ruling for at least six months.

The Scottish Parliament is considering a petition calling for an end to a similar ban, which is in place across the UK.

The National Blood Service claims it is not discriminating against gay men, as a gay man who has never had sex can still donate.

However, a man who has ever had a sexual encounter with another man is banned for life.