Gay men in blood donation protest

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dj news

A protest is to be staged at a local blood donor session over the ban on gay men being allowed to donate.

It comes amid anger over a decision by Health Minister Edwin Poots to prevent gay people from giving blood.

The demonstration will take place at The Playhouse, Artillery Street, on Thursday, August 2, from 5.30pm.

It’s believed the protest will involve gay men queuing up and offering to give blood.

The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service is due to take donations at the Artillery Street venue on August 2 and 3.

One of the organisers of the protest, Connor Kelly, said it was “completely irrational” that a large section of the population was being excluded from donating blood.

He said people should have the right to give blood regardless of sexual orientation.

The Department of Health has insisted Mr Poots has yet to finalise his position with regards to gay men donating blood.

Last month, the Health Minister said new research strengthened his resolve not to allow gay men and those who engage in “high-risk sexual behaviour” to donate.

In Britain, gay men are now allowed to donate, providing they have not had sexual contact for 12 months.

The High Court in Belfast has ruled a gay man had established an arguable case that Mr Poots’ stance was irrational and unlawful. Leave has been granted to seek a judicial review

and a full hearing is listed for December.

Mr Kelly said the Health Minister’s position reenforced “dangerous myths” about gay people “being somehow tainted or unclean”.

Mr Kelly said that as all blood was screened before use there was no need for a blanket ban.

He added: “It will be a colourful and happy human rights protest and everyone, gay or straight, is invited to attend.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Health has said: “The minister has not yet made a final decision on this matter.

“The position has changed in Great Britain, but Northern Ireland’s current position is the same as that in nearly all of Europe including the Republic, and the United States and Canada.

“Before making a final decision on what is best for Northern Ireland, the minister will consider all the relevant evidence.”