Calls for the Northern Irish Health Secretary to step down were voiced at an angry protest against the ban on gay blood donation in Londonderry.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that around 30 protesters attended the event, and chanted: “Give Poots the boot.”
Edwin Poots announced in June that he was to retain the ban on gay people donating blood, saying: “I think that people who engage in high risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood… And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about those people being able to give blood.”
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Connor Kelly, who helped to organize the protest, said: “We know the rule against gay people donating blood has nothing to do with the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service, and our protest is not against them, but we felt this was the best focal point to voice our opposition.
“This is a positive protest. We want to help save lives and I hope others will follow suit and stage demonstrations at other donation sessions.”
They reported that a representative from the Rainbow Project, David McCartney, said: “The argument put forward by the Health Minister just does not add up. It is unsupportable, biased and illogical.
“[Poots] refuses to allow gay people here to donate, but yet there are times when blood is brought here from England for transfusions where gay people are allowed to donate.
Organisers hope that this will make the start of similar such protests, and a lift on the ban on gay men giving blood.
A petition will also be filed tomorrow to lift the ban on gay men giving blood in the UK. They can currently donate if they have been abstinent from sex with other men for one year. It is available to view online here and will file on 4 August.
In France the ban on the donation of blood by men who have sex with men in France is due to be lifted ‘in the coming months’.