Sexually active gay men are banned from donating blood in Canada. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

B.C. union’s petition calls for end to ban on gay men donating blood

Current rules ban men who have had sex with other men in the past year

A B.C. union continues to gather signatures for a parliamentary petition calling on the federal government to end what it calls “discriminatory” practices that bar gay men from donating blood.

Annette Toth, vice-president of MoveUp, which represents working professionals in B.C. and is Local 378 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, said the idea came up as the union was looking to get involved with blood drives this spring.

“One of our members said, ‘I really like this idea, but you do know that I can’t donate blood?” Toth said. “He explained that because he is a gay man, he can’t donate blood, even though he’s been in a monogamous relationship for 10 years.

“We were stunned. This isn’t acceptable, it’s not the 1950s anymore.”

Canadian Blood Services currently requires men and transgender women to abstain from sex with men for one year before they can donate blood. That was dropped from five years, after the agency petitioned Health Canada in 2016. It will take another two years of gathering evidence should the agency want to for another change.

The policy has long drawn fire from LGBTQ groups who argue it should target all people based on their actual sexual behaviour, rather than on certain groups’ sexual preferences.

“It’s not based in science, it’s based in fear,” Toth said, adding unprotected, promiscuous sex is the risk factor.

“If two men walked into Canadian Blood Services right now and wanted to donate blood, the straight man who has unprotected sex would be able to donate blood, but the gay man in a monogamous relationship would not.”

READ MORE: Surrey boy’s painful cancer fight inspires call for blood donors

A parliamentary petition needs 500 signatures to trigger a response by the government in the House of Commons. MoveUp’s petition had reached more than 3,600 names by Monday afternoon. It is set to close in July.

Canadian Blood Services said in a statement to Black Press Media that it is focused on moving away from a time-based policy and towards an “alternative screening approach,” which could change the rules for gay men.

“As part of our research program, we are working to gather the scientific evidence required to determine whether it is possible to reliably identify low-risk, sexually active men who have sex with men.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Passport services expanded to 300 locations across Canada

At Service Canada outlets officers can review applications, validate supporting documents, collect fees and forward applications

Auxiliary bake sale raised more than $1,000

Sweet success from Friday’s sale

Sled Dog Mail Run delivers a good time

Speciality envelopes to be included in mail run will soon be available

Four Quesnel students awarded scholarships for post-secondary education

Indigenous students Olivia Baptiste, Telise Gauthier, Breanne Nyquist and Megan Poole awarded

EDITORIAL: Be smart – don’t drink and drive

The lights are strung, the sales are on, Santa is magically appearing… Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds to narrate movie about B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest

Vancouver-born actor known for Deadpool movies will voice film to be released Feb. 15, 2019

10-lane George Massey bridge too big, B.C. study says

Consultants say replacement tunnel cost similar to new bridge

Canada’s robust credit rating should calm unease about federal deficits: Trudeau

Trudeau says Canada’s long-running triple-A rating means experts have confidence in his government’s approach to the economy

CIBC shrinks event after Whistler mayor irks oil producers

After Whistler sent a letter to a Calgary-based oilsands giant, several energy firms said they would back out of the CIBC event.

Couple caught up in B.C. Legislature bomb plot to learn their fate

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested as part of an undercover RCMP sting on Canada Day 2013

Trial rights of accused spy for China at risk, lawyer tells Supreme Court

The lawyer for a man accused of trying to spy for China says federal foot-dragging over secrecy is endangering his client’s right to timely justice.

‘Recall fatigue’: Canadians may avoid certain foods over holidays

In the winter, Canada’s supply of fresh fruit and vegetables tends to come from very specific areas.

Airline passengers could get up to $2,400 for delays, damaged bags: Canadian agency

Canadian Transportation Agency is releasing draft regulations for public feedback

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle and President Trump’s Twitter feed.

Most Read