October 30, 2006 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Blood Donation, Blood Donor Campaign, Gay & Lesbian Issues, Gay and Lesbian, Red Cross | 2 Comments

In a recent news report the Australian Red Cross Blood Service put out an urgent call for donors as it apparently only had 36 hours remaining. Now this got my blood boiling. The Red Cross (which is presumably not the only one doing this) actively discriminates against homosexuals from giving blood and my deeply hidden inner idealist finds this extremely offensive. I understand that their rationale is that homosexuals are at a higher risk of infectious diseases. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I think that’s beside the point. Even if, as a group gays are at risk (or rather those engaged in male to male sex) this should not preclude a person who is in a monogamous relationship from giving blood. The question should be able sexual activity and history not sexuality. After all if heterosexuals are ‘safer’ as a group that doesn’t automatically exclude someone who’s unsafe from giving blood (while other factors later on might – which is my point). Add to that the capacity for people to lie on their form or be plain ignorant of their own health means that the Red Cross needs effective medical screening tests for donated blood alongside the written declaration. Especially when having unprotected sex is not an automatic rejection.

What got me thinking about this were the ads the Red Cross ran a few months ago basically outlining all the people who couldn’t give blood with the intent of saying if you’re not one of these groups give blood. Except they never included homosexuals in those ads – either because they don’t care, because they knew there’d be backlash over such overt discrimination or because they have a tiny little disclaimer saying that there may be additional criteria. Yet they’re crying poor, the homosexual community may be a minority but could make a contribution to this blood drought.

As a result, and I know it might be selfish of me but I won’t donate blood, it’s my little piece of activism and conscientious objection to an unjust exclusion.  

Last year there was some discussion about changing the rules which explains the ongoing Tasmanian Anti-Discrimation case and the flow on effects for South Africa (although gays must be celibate) .


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  1. yeh, i was similarly annoyed at those ads. its completely ignoring the fact that there are a lot of sexually-irresponsible hetrosexual people out there who spread STDs.

    they should just ask questions about your risk-taking activities, not your status.

    i can’t seem to donate anyway… intense fear and previous fainting episodes when having blood tests mean that i’m not that keen.

  2. I’ve only donated once mainly because I haven’t eaten when I do catch sight of one and you’re not supposed to go on an empty stomach.

    The poster version of the TV ad is up in the Kings Cross Station tunnel. Annoyed!

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