Ireland: Gay blood ban ‘likely’ to be relaxed to 12 months
Ireland is likely to relax its permanent ban on gay men giving blood.
Currently in the country, men who have sex with men (MSM) are permanently banned from giving blood, under rules introduced at the height of the AIDS crisis.
However, a number of other countries – including England, Wales and Scotland in the UK – have relaxed the measure, to reflect modern-day screening technology that is available.
The Irish Department of Health is currently examining a policy paper that looks at a range of options on the issue.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar – who himself came out as gay a week ago – told RTE today that he was leaning towards adopting a 12-month deferral system, where MSM can only give blood if they abstain from sex for a year.
The minister said he plans to seek advice from the Chief Medical Officer and consult with patients before making a final decision, but favours the move, which would bring Ireland in line with other countries.
2015 is a make-or-break year for equality in Ireland, with a referendum on same-sex marriage set to take place in May. Meanwhile, the government is also furthering plans to allow for same-sex adoption, and is also drafting gender recognition laws.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland maintains a permanent ban on MSM blood donation, as successive DUP Health Ministers Edwin Poots and Jim Wells have refused to lift the ban.