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

Fort St. James gets a new CAO

Melany Helmer comes with years of senior management experience

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Move natural gas pipeline, MP suggests

Coastal GasLink could then avoid opposition

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Zero-interest student loans a huge relief: CMTN student union

Parliamentary secretary hears from Terrace students, alumni and staff

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read