Lib Dem leader submits bill to end gay blood ban

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Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is submitting a bill to end the ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.

In England, Wales and Scotland, men who have sex with men are deferred from giving blood for 12 months, while in Northern Ireland a permanent ban remains in place.

Critics say the current rules do not reflect modern screening technology, and there have been shifts in other countries to systems based on individual risk.

Mr Farron, who will submit a Presentation Bill on the issue in the Commons today, is the latest MP to seek Parliamentary action on the issue – following Tory MP Michael Fabricant and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Mr Farron told PinkNews: “The current law which bars sexually active gay men is scientifically and socially outdated, deeply and unjustly stigmatising, and urgently needs to change.

“In 2016 I cannot see why we can’t support an evidence based approach.

“I hope my bill today is another stage in the long running campaign to deliver equality.”

The Blood Donor (Equality) Bill is described as “a Bill to make provision about the conditions to be met by male blood donors, including removing the restrictions relating to blood donation from men who have sexual intercourse with men; and for connected purposes”.

Mr Farron previously told PinkNews before becoming leader: “My pledge to you is that my first opposition day bill will be getting rid of the gay blood ban. All of these things need to be based on the science, not on prejudice.”
Lib Dem leader submits bill to end gay blood ban
Health Minister Jane Ellison previously confirmed that a review into blood donations will take place in 2016, based on guidance issued from donations watchdog SabTO.

She said: “Making sure that the blood supply is safe is an absolute priority. Donor deferral for men who have sex with men was changed from lifetime to 12 months in 2011, but four years later it is time to look again at the question.

“Public Health England has just undertaken an anonymous survey of donors, and I am pleased to say that SaBTO-the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs-will review the issue in 2016.”