Judgement reserved in Edwin Poots Northern Ireland blood ban case

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Judgement has been reserved in a legal case by the former Northern Irish Health Minister Edwin Poots to overturn a ruling that his gay blood ban was “infected” by bias.

Poots had brought a challenge to the ruling that his policy on blood donation by men who have sex with men was irrational.

In addition, he is challenging verdicts that he breached his ministerial code, and that his Christian beliefs had affected his decision making process.

The panel of senior judges at the Court of Appeal this week heard extensive legal arguments before stating that they wished to take time to consider all submissions in depth.

This battle over blood donation has gone on for almost four years.

During the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s the ban was put in place, but in England, Scotland and Wales, it was partially lifted in 2011.

In its place is now a 12-month deferral period meaning men who have sex with men must abstain from sex for a year before they can donate blood.

Despite this, Poots maintained the full, lifetime ban in Northern Ireland, citing public safety.

A gay man brought a legal case against Poots, and findings were made against him in a judicial review.

The High Court has also ruled that the Democratic Unionist MLA has no power to keep the ban.

However challenges have continued to be brought by Poots’ successors.