Northern Ireland's gay blood ban to end

Northern Ireland's controversial lifetime ban on gay men donating blood is to end.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 4:17 pm
Health MInister Michelle O'Neill

Stormont Health Minister Michelle O’Neill will announce the move on a visit to an LGBT advocacy organisation in Belfast later.

A similar ban was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011 and replaced with rules that allowed gay men to give blood 12 months after their last sexual encounter with another man.

The lifetime ban had been retained in Northern Ireland by successive Democratic Unionist health ministers.

Sinn Fein’s Mrs O’Neill took over the health portfolio last week in the wake of the Assembly election and the decision on the blood ban is the first major announcement of her tenure.

It is understood the change will not be opposed by her DUP colleagues in the powersharing administration.

The one-year deferral system operated in the rest of the UK is now set to become law in Northern Ireland.