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Case Against Northern Ireland’s Gay Blood Ban Can Proceed

Case Against Northern Ireland’s Gay Blood Ban Can Proceed


A man from Northern Ireland has been told by the High Court that his case challenging Northern Ireland’s blanket ban on gay men donating blood can proceed.

Reports the BBC:

The High Court ruled he had established an arguable case that Health Minister Edwin Poots’ stance was irrational and unlawful.


Mr Justice Treacy was also told the ban was irrational because Northern Ireland takes blood supplies from the rest of the UK which could have been donated by gay men.

Legal papers submitted on support of the judicial review challenge also claimed Mr Poots position was infected by apparent bias.

Attorney General John Larkin QC, responding on behalf of the minister and department, argued that he was entitled to act as he has.

He stressed: “It’s the respondent’s case that no definitive decision has been taken.”

The High Court allowed the case to go forward on evidence of irrationality on the part of the Health Minister and with a failure to comply with EU law. The Court did however throw out a challenge made on human rights grounds that attempted to establish Plaintiff was a victim because he could not donate blood.

In 2011 the rest of the United Kingdom revised down its ban on men who have sex with men giving blood, creating instead a 12 month deferral period which requires gay or bisexual men to have abstained from sex with other men within that time. This was reduced from the 10-year deferral period that had been in place in England, Scotland and Wales since the 1980s.

Campaigners say the ban is irrational and motivated by homophobia because it considers all gay men, regardless of sexual practice, to be a risk to blood donation integrity even though it does not ask those heterosexual donors who practice unsafe sex to adhere to the same standards.

The hearing is set to continue in December.


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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Garrett Albright.

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12:54PM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

This ban will not make blood donations safer. There are so many circumstances in various people's lives that make them at risk groups. The only way forward is blanket testing.

1:05PM PDT on Jul 5, 2012


11:40PM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

A ban on gay blood is as ignorant as banning non-Caucasian blood.

8:42PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

They do ask donors if they have engaged in any high risk activities before giving a donation. There is a very long list of questions ranging from travel abroad, drug use, sexual activity and medical history including prior illlnesses. I was a regular donor years ago and had to answer the same questions every time I gave blood.

1:32PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Weeding out people who have engaged in high risk sexual activity recently enough that STD tests may not detect them seems reasonable, but considering 25% or 30% of straight people have had anal sex, which is considered the riskiest, at least without condoms, there's a lot more straight people overall who have high risk sex than gay people.

Why not just ask blood donors if they have engaged in certain high risk activities in a recent time period?

12:08PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

what absurd stereotyping

8:07PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Here in Canada we had a tainted blood tragedy, early on when still little was known about AIDS and Hep C, but that was in the 1970's and thorough testing was in place by the mid 1980's. Sadly, early on mistakes were made, but that was decades ago and to assume that one group alone continues to represent the only risk is unbelievably and dangerously ignorant.

7:32PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Marge S. said "I dont think Gays should give blood..their sexuality turns my stomach"

Well bigots and homophobes turn my stomach, but I'd still rather let you donate blood.

marc r. The largest percentage of new HIV cases here in the US are black men, should we ban them from giving blood?

7:20PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Plain common sense says that gay people and IV drug users, former or present, should absolutely NOT be allowed to give blood! If you are so politically correct that you would take a chance on catching AIDS hepatitis C or God knows what other diseases that could be spread by contaminated blood then you must be a complete idiot! Don't even attempt to say that every ounce of blood is tested only a fool would believe that! Gays have plenty of rights already! please don't put the public in danger by giving them this one.

1:53PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Three years ago my life was saved by nine units of blood, nine people took time out of their busy lives to give to a stranger. It matters not the donors politics, sexuality, religion, and on, what matters is their kind heart and that because of them I am alive to be grateful.

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