Northern Ireland: Judge rules Health Minister displayed prejudice in supporting gay blood ban

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The High Court in Belfast has found that Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots breached the ministerial code in continuing the ban on gay men donating blood.

The judge said Mr Poots displayed apparent bias that went beyond religious beliefs and into the realms of prejudice.

He should have also taken issue to the Executive Committee.

In his ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Treacy found that the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood in the province “irrational”.

By continuing the ban, Health Minister Edwin Poots acted beyond his capacity in breach of the ministerial code.

In September, it was revealed Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) had spent £37,112 in relation to Mr Poots’ legal challenge.

The DUP Assembly Member has also used £40,000 of public money in order to fund a legal challenge to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children.

In October 2012, Mr Justice Treacy said the ban discriminated against those in civil partnerships and breached their right to family life.

Last year, Mr Poots angered equality campaigners when he decided to retain Northern Ireland’s blanket ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

It now falls to UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to quash the ban 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.