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Labour MP Chris Bryant called a ‘gay homophobe’ during blood ban spat

Joseph McCormick June 18, 2015
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Out gay Labour MP Chris Bryant has been called a “gay homophobe” during a row over his apparent opposition to lifting the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.

The MP for the Rhondda locked horns with Tory MP for Lichfield Michael Fabricant, who yesterday received a response from Minister for Public Health Jane Ellison after he asked what research was being done to justify the 12-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men donating blood.

Despite blood shortages, gay and bisexual men are still banned from donating blood if they have had sex in the previous twelve months in England, Scotland and Wales, and are subject to a lifetime ban in Northern Ireland.

During a spat over the issue, when Mr Bryant defended the 12-month ban, saying it was “based on science”, responding to Mr Fabricant’s assertion that the ban is “illogical”.

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The Lichfield MP then called Mr Bryant a “gay homophobe”, writing on Twitter: “Just had a jokey altercation with @RhonddaBryant on #gaybloodban. He’s against. He also didn’t support gay marriage at 1st. A gay homophobe?”

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The MP for the Rhondda, Mr Bryant, responded: “You are a deeply offensive man and it’s time you apologise,” adding: “I was out and campaigning for gay equality when you still supported section 28.”

He has since gone on to defend his stance on the gay blood ban to a number of Twitter users.

Earlier this month the pair had a more amicable exchange in the House of Commons, when Mr Fabricant said Mr Bryant was a “flirt” after he welcomed Tory ministers.

Mr Fabricant has campaigned for the ban to be reconsidered. Last week it was announced that the number of people donating blood has fallen 40% in a decade, and the blood donation service could soon be in crisis.

The response he received to his written question to Jane Ellison yesterday, read: “No such comparative research has been undertaken. Public Health England does not collect data on whether an individual is in a same sex relationship or a civil partnership as part of the routine surveillance of acute hepatitis B or HIV, nor as part of routine surveillance in blood donors.”

In a number of European countries, MSM still face lifetime bans on blood donations under regulations introduced at the height of the AIDS crisis.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in April that it may be justified to indefinitely ban men from giving blood, while hearing the case of a French man who was refused the right to do so.

Mr Fabricant, the Conservative MP for Lichfield, introduced a Private Member’s Bill last year calling for the gay blood ban to be removed.

On introducing the bill, Mr Fabricant said: “This still does not make sense.  It cannot be logical that a gay man practising safe sex with a single partner is banned from giving blood while a straight man having unsafe sex with multiple partners can. There is no logic to this and it is unnecessarily discriminatory.”

The Northern Irish Department of Health recently admitted it does not have any evidence to back up maintaining a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood – but successive Democratic Unionist Party Health Ministers have refused to budge on the issue.

The British Government in January said it was considering whether to conduct a study into whether gay or bisexual men in monogamous, same-sex relationships should still have to wait 12 months after having sex to donate blood.

Related topics: blood ban, Chris Bryant, gay blood, Michael Fabricant

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