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Gay man files human rights complaint with the United Nations over Canada’s discriminatory blood donation ban for queer men

Patrick Kelleher August 7, 2020
Christopher Karas Canada

CCGSD/ The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon/ Mitchel Raphael courtesy of Christopher Karas

A gay man in Canada has filed a human rights complaint with the United Nations over his country’s discriminatory blood donation ban on queer men.

Christoper Karas, 24, from Brampton, Ontario, complained in 2016 to the Canadian Human Rights Commission over the policy, which prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

Four years on, the policy remains in place – so Karas decided to take it one step further.

“Once it’s before the UN, it’s outside of Canadian jurisdiction and any Canadian influence especially since they lost their seat (on the UN security council),” he told the Brampton Guardian

“I’m hoping that through this, the process can be fairer and potentially clarify more of the issues and make the recommendations that can be accepted and followed.”

Gay man from Canada wants the country’s blood donation ban to be ‘eliminated’.

Karas hopes that Canada will instead move to behaviour based screening, and said the currently policy is based on homophobic and transphobic notions about queer people and HIV.

“We’re seeing potential for these policies to be eliminated; whether we are being heard is another question,” he said.

He added: “I have to take every action and make every effort to bring about change and if that means bringing a UN human rights complaint forward, then I will do that.”

Since Karas filed his complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2016, the deferral period was dropped from one year to three months.

I’m hoping that through this, the precess can be fairer and potentially clarify more of the issues and make the recommendations that can be accepted and followed.

But it’s still not enough, activists believe – with many questioning why discriminatory policies enacted at the height of the AIDS epidemic are still in place today.

Canada is not the only country where such a policy exists – numerous countries across the world require gay and bisexual men to practice celibacy for a period of time before donating blood.

The United States and the United Kingdom both have a three month deferral policy, whereas other countries like the Republic of Ireland still insist that queer men abstain from sex for a full year before donating blood.

Various countries imposed lifetime bans on gay and bisexual men donating blood in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was at its height.

However, many have since amended or removed their blood donation bans due to advancements in medical science.

More: blood donation ban, Canada, Christopher Karas, ontario, United Nations

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