A ban on gay sperm donors may soon be lifted in New Zealand according to health authorities in the country.
The controversial issue has been widely covered in the media due to a shortage of sperm donors in New Zealand and Australia. However, when a gay man in Wellington offered to help, he was turned away.
Dr Richard Fisher, of Fertility Associates, said: “We’re working through a process that ensures every donor who comes here will have the same testing, and providing they’re not HIV+ at the end of six months quarantine, they’ll be tested, we’ll collect the sperm, it’ll wait six months in quarantine, we’ll test the donor again, and providing the person’s not HIV+ they’ll go into the bank.”
The medical director was unsure at what affect lifting the ban will have on the sperm donor shortage. “I don’t know how much our previous restriction made a difference. We’re keen to get donors who want to be donors.”
“We’ve had a number of gay men approach us after the very recent publicity about excluding gay men, but previously we didn’t notice any significant increase in people approaching us.”
Fertility Associates operate under safety guidelines set out by an Australian committee, the Reproductive Technologies Accreditation Authority. “We had been acting under the verbal advice of the previous chairman that we shouldn’t use gay men, because he was associated with a clinic that some years ago had some pregnancies affected with HIV,” said Dr Fisher.
“Our verbal advice has been that one of the risk limitations was that we should exclude groups who were perceived as being high risk, and amongst those were gay men,” Dr Fisher explains.
“The donor is giving a gift, and may be as discriminatory as he wishes. There is nothing in the Human Rights Act that says if you donate, it can go to anybody,” Dr Fisher added.
A spokesperson from the National Gamete Donation Trust in the UK told PinkNews.co.uk that there are no legal reasons against gay sperm donors in the UK.
“They are seen as a high risk group so some clinics may interpret this differently. Every sperm donor must go through the same screening process.”