Students in Scotland have joined a national campaign against a ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.
They feel the Scottish National Blood Transfusion service is discriminating against hundreds of healthy men. They will protest outside a blood donor session at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen urging others to give blood on their behalf .
According to The Blood Transfusion Service, gay men are in a high risk group and it is safer for them not to give blood.
Matthew Middler, the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender officer, insists gay people in monogamous relationships are at no greater risk of sexually-transmitted infections than anyone else and accused the service of promoting “outdated and homophobic stereotypes.”
He said the ban was a hangover from the 1980s when Aids was regarded as a gay man’s disease.
Mr Middler told the Scotsman: “Blood is needed in life-threatening situations so the last thing we want to do is put people off giving. But if they take these cards along and say they are donating in place of someone who would like to, but isn’t allowed, it will hopefully help to get the message across.”
The campaign is being led by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender wing of the National Union of Students (NUS), which is calling on the UK to relax the rules to bring it into line with other countries.
Kat Louis, NUS Women’s Place LGBT Officer, said: “NUS has always emphatically encouraged our members to donate blood – because gay and bisexual men can’t. The campaign aims to highlight that many of our members who willing and healthy are prevented from donating blood because of this policy, which exacerbates the current shortage of donors.”
Students’ Unions taking part in the campaign support the notion that everyone should be able to give blood if they practise safer sex, as it is not only gay and bisexual men who are at risk from HIV and AIDS.
Fellow NUS LGBT Officer James-J Walsh commented: “The NUS LGBT campaign believes that the National Blood Service policy also perpetuates the myth of HIV and AIDS as ‘gay diseases’. In fact, recent statistics show that HIV is becoming more prevalent in the heterosexual community.