Northern Ireland’s gay blood ban is doing basically nothing to ‘protect’ blood supply

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

Northern Ireland is making no significant difference to the safety of its blood supply by permanently banning gay men.

England, Scotland and Wales, men who have sex with men can give blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months – whereas in Northern Ireland they are banned for life.

Successive Health Ministers in Northern Ireland have refused to lift the permanent ban on gay men donating blood in Northern Ireland, fighting a costly legal battle despite the Health department admitting to having “no evidence” whatsoever to continue the ban.

Amid a legal challenge to the rule, the Court of Appeal this week heard that former Health Minister Edwin Poots insisted on keeping the rule in place because he was scared of ‘contamination’, despite increased testing and the weight of scientific evidence.
Northern Ireland’s gay blood ban is doing basically nothing to ‘protect’ blood supply

The Irish Times reports that David Scoffield QC argued that the decision was “so disproportionate as to be unreasonable” – giving the infinitesimal” one-in-a-billion threat.

Mr Scoffield contended: “In Northern Ireland, where there are only around 64,000 donations per year, that’s a risk of an infectious donation being realised about every 15,000 years.”

It’s actually one every 15,625 years, by our maths, so we’re due a mix-up by the year 17,640… and we’re hoping HIV will be eradicated long before then

Adding that the DUP minister had defied professional advice on the issue, Mr Scoffield said: “The minister’s own professional adviser was supporting the change, the chief medical officer was supporting the change.”

Current Health Minister Simon Hamilton, who vowed to be guided by science on the issue, has so far ducked calls to end the ban.