California: LGBT group and Assembly Member join forces to fight gay blood ban
The largest LGBT rights group in California has partnered with a state Assembly Member to attempt to fight the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.
Equality California and Democrat Richard Bloom are championing an assembly joint resolution which aims to stop the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from preventing men who have had sex with other men from giving blood.
At present, the FDA does not allow a man to give blood for the rest of his life if he has had sex with another man, and has done since 1977.
Rick Zbur, executive director-elect of Equality California, said: “Even with a clean bill of health, a gay man is considered more of a threat to the blood supply than a straight person who has been treated for a sexually transmitted disease in the last year.
“The FDA ban is discrimination pure and simple. Ending this FDA ban is a priority for Equality California, and this resolution, authored by Assembly Member Bloom, is the beginning of that effort.”
Medical bodies such as the American Red Cross and the American Association for Blood Banks have pointed out advances in blood testing and the blanket nature of the ban, calling for a review and/or repeal of the policy.
Bloom said: “Today’s science-based best practices for blood donations make it clear that it is unnecessary to prohibit healthy men from donating blood purely on the basis of their sexual orientation.
“The FDA’s archaic exclusions are both discriminatory and unwise, considering the nation’s chronic blood supply shortages.”
Should men who have sex with men be allowed to give blood, the Williams Institute think tank predicts that an extra 130,150 would provide 219,200 pints of blood per year, which would help the blood banks which are faced with shortages.
The assembly joint resolution passed 58-15 yesterday, and will now move to the Senate.