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

Langley has no legion branch but will have poppy sales

A special poppy campaign starts later this month and needs volunteers.

Love of music shared with Langley’s little musicians

A Grade 11 R.E. Mountain student stepped up, realizing many local families couldn’t afford lessons.

Second Langley man found guilty in $6 million fraud

The co-accused in the Aggressive Roadbuilders fraud admitted his guilt in court.

Clover Valley Beer Festival will return to Cloverdale next summer

Organizers announce early bird tickets available for three beer festivals

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

Defence cautions against mob justice in Calgary child neglect trial

Jennifer and Jeromie Clark of Calgary have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death

Feds eyeing options to expedite pardons for minor pot convictions

Internal discussions have focused on an application-based process for speeding up pot pardons

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to dominate North American marijuana industry

Cannabis producers claim the U.S. is “rapidly losing” its competitive advantage to Canada

Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

Opposition calls it ‘fake’ tax that is reducing housing supply

Around the BCHL: Merritt, Chilliwack and Coquitlam early-season surprises

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s going on in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Federal government tables bill to transform prisoner segregation

Administrative and disciplinary segregation will be eliminated by Ottawa

CFL expecting little to no impact from legalization of marijuana in Canada

The league tests only for performance-enhancing substances and not recreational drugs like cannabis

Most Read