Heartstopper’s Joe Locke speaks out against ‘archaic’ queer blood ban

Joe Locke.

Heartstopper star Joe Locke has called on the Isle of Man to lift its discriminatory ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

In the UK, the blanket ban on queer men donating blood was lifted in 2017, replaced with a policy that allowed queer men to donate blood if they were willing to abstain from sex, both oral and anal, for three months.

In 2021, the ban was lifted completely, allowing any men who have sex with men and are in monogamous longterm relationships, or have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, to donate blood.

But the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency, retains its 1980s blanket ban, despite the rule having been under review since 2014. 

Speaking in a video message at the Manx Pride celebration Isle of Pride, Heartstopper actor Joe Locke, who grew up on the Isle of Man, demanded the ban be lifted to “bring the island one step closer on its journey to acceptance”.

He said: “The Isle of Man to this day does not allow gay men to donate blood, an archaic rule that was placed into force at the height of the AIDS pandemic.

“These rules have slowly changed in the UK… but not on the island.

“In 2014, a consultation into changing the rules was launched, with the outcome being that the policy was under review. This was six years ago and nothing has changed.

“I call upon the Manx government and our politicians within [Isle of Man’s parliament] Tynwald to change this archaic law.”


According to the BBC, Isle of Pride committee member Clare Barber MHK agreed with Locke, insisting the blood donation rules “don’t make any sense in a modern world”.

In countries around the world, blanket bans on gay and bisexual men donating blood were introduced during the AIDS crisis. Many still exist today, despite decades of scientific developments meaning they are no longer necessary.