Caroline Lucas has expressed disappointment at the Department of Health for rejecting calls to end the ban against gay and bisexual men donating blood within 12 months of having sex.

The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion told PinkNews on Thursday she would continue to lobby for change and described the current policy as “draconian”.

Last Saturday, Green Party councillors in Brighton and Hove announced they would table a council motion on 17 July, urging the government to scrap the existing 12-month deferral.

At present, men who have sex with men (MSM), can only donate if they have not had sex for 12 months or more.

In 2011, England, Wales and Scotland introduced a one-year deferral.

A lifetime ban remains in place in Northern Ireland.

But on Tuesday, the Department of Health (DH) said it had “no plans” to review the current 12-month deferral.

A DH spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “The 12-month deferral reflects the heightened risk men who have sex with men have from blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B.

“It allows for the period of time these viruses can go undetected by screening tests and lessens the risk of infection in people who need blood donations.”

“I welcomed the 2011 policy change which lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood but the government didn’t go far enough,” Ms Lucas said to PinkNews.co.uk.

“The current rules are still discriminatory and are not backed by the scientific evidence which supports a six month window before donating blood after a possible risk, for all donors, on the basis that tests for HIV and Hepatitis C can detect infection within that time.

“I have long lobbied Parliament for a change to these laws and will continue to campaign for the government to end this draconian policy, offer more opportunities for blood screening – and ensure the increased supplies of safe blood our health service so urgently needs.”