Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed disappointment at the restrictions which prevent all sexually active gay men from donating blood.
“Yes, we’re working on it, but I’m upset too that it’s not there yet,” he said, as quoted by the Canadian Press.
“Our entire government is committed to full equality for the queer community. You have my word on that,” he added, addressing crowds at the Egale Identity Gala at the Toronto Hilton hotel.
In Canada, a requirement that gay and bisexual men abstain from sex for five years before donating blood was reduced to a period of one year in 2016.
The Canadian Blood Services is exploring the possibility of screening approaches for blood donors and technologies which would provide data to change the current donor eligibility requirements.
The website reads: “Our aim is to identify a long-term solution that prioritises patient safety while minimising the societal impact on certain groups of people.
“We established a working group, which includes representation from patient advocacy groups, as well as LGBTQ community organisations, to serve as a forum for ongoing discussion and consultation as we develop further changes in eligibility criteria.”
Accepting his award, Trudeau said Canada had made great strides in LGBT+ equality, but there was more work to be done, such as addressing homelessness among young people and discrimination and abuse suffered by transgender Canadians.
“I will fight for you, and I will fight with you,” he said.
In the UK, laws regarding blood donation by gay and bisexual men were relaxed last year, following advances in detection techniques and an increased understanding of HIV.
Gay men will be allowed to give blood three months after having sex, rather than a year, as per the previous guidelines.
Dr Gail Miflin, medical and research director at NHS Blood and Transplant said the change was based on the latest available medical and scientific evidence.
“We have one of the safest blood supplies in the world. Anyone may require a blood transfusion in the future and so it’s in all our interests to ensure that we work hard to keep blood safe for patients,” Miflin said.
“This starts with selection of donors before they give blood. Everyone must answer questions on their health and lifestyle before they donate and answering these questions correctly is crucial, in order to keep blood safe.”