The Appeal Court in Northern Ireland has ruled that the Health Minister in Stormont should decided whether gay men can give blood.

There is currently a lifetime ban for gay men to donate blood in Northern Ireland.

The court overruled a lower court’s decision that former minister, Edwin Poots, had acted unlawfully, irrationally and with apparent bias in not adopting the UK-wide policy.

The court said that the Northern Irish Health Minister had the power to set the policy and not the UK’s Health Secretary.

Responding to the decision, The Rainbow Project, who promote health and wellbeing for LGBT people, said it was disappointed by the decision.

“The SABTO report was published 5 years ago and today’s judgment follows four years of legal proceedings and it is disappointing that their lordships have failed to recognise that there is no reasonable, rational or medical reason to maintain this lifetime ban, particularly in light of the fact that all other regions of the UK have moved to a temporary deferral,” said John O’Doherty, The Rainbow Project’s director.

“We would once again urge Minister Hamilton to accept the advice given by the experts in SABTO and adopt the one year deferral which exists in all other parts of the UK.”

Currently in England, Scotland and Wales gay men can donate blood if they don’t have sex with another man for a year.

Last month, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron proposed a bill that would end the ban on gay men giving blood.