Ireland: Non-sexually active gay man told he cannot donate blood

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A young gay man in Ireland claims he has been discriminated against from giving blood, despite never being sexually active.

Tomás Heneghan, 21, from Castlegar, County Galway, has donated blood since he was 18.

However, in July, he received a letter from a doctor at the Irish Blood Transfusion Service asking him to contact her to discuss a query about previous donations.

“She said the queries about me related to excluded sexual activities and she asked if I understood the questionnaire that I had filled in when I donated blood,” he told the Irish Times. “I said I had always answered the questions truthfully. She didn’t say I had lied but implied I had not understood the questions.”

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service has a lifetime ban from donating blood on any man who has ever had sex with another man.

Mr Heneghan says he has never been sexually active and has donated blood for the last three years.   

The Blood Transfusion Service says it can’t comment on individual cases.

“It’s discrimination. It’s a slap in the face. I have been so loyal and have planned my life around donating blood. It’s very important to me. I keep myself healthy coming up to donations, eat well.

“This would not happen if I was straight.”

In Ireland, men who have had sex with men (MSM), are not permitted to donate blood.

A blanket ban also remains in place in Northern Ireland.

In 2011, England, Wales and Scotland introduced a one-year deferral for gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood.

They can donate – providing they refrain from having sex with men for 12 months.

Russia overturned its ban in 2008 – although there is now a danger of it being reintroduced.