Ed Miliband: We’ve got to look at ways to make gay blood donation possible

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Ed Miliband has called for a review of the blood ban, which stops sexually active gay and bisexual men from giving blood.

At present in England, Wales and Scotland, men who have sex with men (MSM) can only donate blood if they have not had sex for 12 months or more – regardless of the safety of the sex engaged in.

Groups have long argued that the ban does not reflect current HIV screening technology or prevention methods, while other countries including South Africa have moved to a system which takes into account an individual’s risk factors instead of basing it entirely on sexuality.

Labour leader Ed Miliband was challenged on the issue earlier this month, when a panel member on Leaders Live asked: “As a gay man, I can get married, I have equal rights in the workplace, but I still can’t give blood. Why?”

Mr Miliband responded: “I think that’s a real issue, and it’s something we’ve got to look at. We’ve got to look at the ways which we can make it happen.

When pushed on the ban not reflecting screening technology, he said: “I’ll take it away and come back with a good answer. It’s a good question.”

Michael Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, introduced a Private Member’s Bill earlier this year calling for the gay blood ban to be removed.

This month, the FDA in the US announced that a permanent ban on MSM donating blood should end, in favour of a 12-month deferral system similar to England, Wales and Scotland.

Northern Ireland maintains a permanent ban on MSM blood donation, as the DUP consistently block all attempts to reform the measure.