Scottish Parliament to debate ending blood ban for men who have sex with men
The Scottish Parliament is set to debate lifting the one year ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) giving blood.
The move would make Scotland the first place in the UK to lift the ban, which was only recently changed from a permanent ban on MSM blood donations to one year’s abstinence by the UK government.
The debate, tabled for November 29, has won cross-party support.
There won’t be a vote on the issue, however, with the Scottish Government expected to respond following the MSPs debate.
Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, who tabled the motion said: “In the name of equality, Scotland needs to go further to ensure everyone – no matter what your sexuality – is allowed to donate blood”.
“It makes perfect sense, at a time when blood donors are in high demand from Give Blood. Lifting the ban will also bring blood donation in line with organ, stem cell and bone marrow donations.
“It is time to end this archaic ruling against gay and bisexual men and prove once again that this parliament is a beacon of fairness and equality to the world.”
Stewart McDonald MP, co-chair of the cross-party group on blood donations at Westminster, said: “I am delighted the Scottish Parliament will debate this motion next week, which aims to ensure all people can give blood regardless of their sexual orientation and increase blood stock whilst always maintaining its safety and integrity.
“There is a body of evidence which shows the 12-month deferral period for donating blood could be reduced to three months and we should be looking at all restrictions on donation as there continues to be a shortage of blood.”
It’s less than three months since Norther Ireland lifted its lifetime ban on MSM blood donations, following years of governments that had opposed the change.
A spokesperson for Stonewall Scotland welcomed the news: “These current rules are clearly unfair and we want to see people asked similar questions – irrespective of their sexual orientation – to accurately assess the risk of infection.
“Screening all donors by sexual behaviour rather than by sexual orientation would increase blood stocks in times of shortage and create a safer supply by giving a more accurate, non-discriminatory assessment.”