As of 7 November 2011 the lifetime ban on donating blood on gay and bisexual men who have had sex with other men will be lifted. However men who have had anal or oral sex with another man, whether protected or unprotected, in the 12 months before donating blood will still not be allowed to donate. Other forms of sexual activity, such as mutual masturbation, will not be covered by the ban. Up until the 7th November there remains a complete ban on any man who has had sex with another man from donating blood.
Stonewall believe the safety of the blood supply is of paramount importance and continue to campaign for a blood donation system to take into account the risks individuals pose to the blood supply. The new changes, whilst welcomed as a step in the right direction, still ban gay or bisexual men who have only engaged in low-risk sexual activity from donating blood, whilst heterosexuals who have engaged in higher-risk activity are still allowed to donate.
Countries such as Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand have all changed their policies to allow gay men who pose no risk to the blood supply to donate blood.
For Stonewall’s statement on the changes please click here.
When I was 12, my father was giving blood and took me along so I wasn't bored. I was determined afterwards to give blood the moment I turned 18 and when that day came I was told no for the simple fact I had sex with other men. I was gutted. Before hand I read up and the uses of blood and how much good giving blood could do. Now I see signs all over saying "Can you save a life? Give Blood and save a life today". I feel so guilty and yet so frustrated that I cannot help when I know I have healthy blood. All I ask is please, please change this ridiculous law that prevents healthy men who have sex with men, to give blood. Women who have sex with men can do so, so what'ts the difference?
Jamie, 04 August 2010
I would agree with Paul's comment (Dec 09) about contacting companies that host blood donation session to bring to their attention that they are working with an organisation that is essentially homophobic and is therefore in breach of their anti-discrimination policies. I've had to deal with this issue recently at work, even meeting with COO to discuss the issue and been told that what I said wasn't going to make any difference and that the blood donations would continue. I don't want to bring blood donation to a stop but at the same time, to limit corporate blood donations may help the Blood Service to review (urgently) their blood donation screening and criteria.
jai, 11 April 2010
The Blood Services do not actually make this decision. The government directs the policy which they get from an advisory body called SaBTO. They will look at the evidence and a decision on change is expected soon. I do not think the ban will be permenant in future but will be in line with other countries. My guess is a 5 year deferral will be the new guideline. I believe the South Africans have got it right with 6 months. Many of you will not even agree with this.
George, 20 February 2010
I had no idea that Britain followed such a discriminatory policy against gay men when donating blood. I lived through that indignity when I lived in the US, but here in Spain (where practically no institutional homophobia remains) things are quite different. Every single drop of blood is screened for diseases (including HIV), and one receives the medical report over the mail. I will be moving to London to pursue my PhD, and therefore I am saddened to have to "step down" in terms of my marriage, and now blood donation. Seems like everyday I discover another "step down" in my full rights. Hope there are no more surprises down the road...
Antonio, 17 December 2009
I am saddened by the fact that I cannot give blood. After 2 and 1/2 years in a faithful relationship, I still can't donate. My niece has been diagnosed with leukemia and has needed the blood supplied by others. I want to help, and am not phased by the prospect of donating a pint 3 times a year! What is wrong with the laws in this country...
LB, 14 December 2009
My company is hosting the UK blood services and adertising on the Intranet site and special tables in the canteen area. Up to now I've patiently been amiable to this while they agreed to not attach any of the service's documentation that explicitly discriminates, as the need for blood donations is important. However, after several calls for them to change their policy, they continue to discriminate against gay men. Is it time we call for our companies to ban them as they do not comply with our company's anti-discrimation policies? May be that way they will get the message that it is no longer acceptable to discriminate on perceived risk rather than actual risk!
Paul, 07 December 2009