This article was published on March 23rd, 2015
While the LGBT community in Canada has seen monumental and historic progress in recent years, the ability of gay men to donate lifesaving blood to those in need has yet to be achieved. In 2013, Canadian Blood Services announced they were removing the restrictions of men who have sex with men to donate blood.
While this announcement could have been a positive step, the organization decided to put the restriction that these must abstain from sex for five years prior to donating blood. This same requirement is not placed upon heterosexual individuals. To place this requirement upon these men in our modern era it both insulting and unfortunate.
The HIV/AIDS research is such today that we understand the disease better than we did in the 1980s or 1990s. This ban has been placed upon these men without concrete scientific evidence to show the restriction is still necessary to protect the general public. These same men are able to register and donate their organs but remain unable to donate their blood despite ongoing pleas from Canadian Blood Services that they have a low supply of much needed blood.
Many groups throughout Canada, including the Young Liberals of Canada, have called upon the organization and the federal government to lift this ban in order to allow an increase of blood supply for those who are critically ill. The United Kingdom and other countries around the world have lifted this ban as a sign of respect for gay men but also to increase the supply of emergency blood supply for patients who require this blood. The US still continues to struggle with allowing MSM to donate blood too, something LA Pride has been advocating for years.
Some within the gay community would argue that gay men are even more aware and cautious with their sexual health, including regular testing and protection. While evidence based arguments could be articulated to prove the need for this restriction to be lifted, the time is now for Canadian Blood Services to finally make this change.