Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) students from across the UK will descend on London on Tuesday in an NUS protest against the National Blood Service’s policy of not allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood.
Currently, men who have ever had oral or anal sex with another man are banned for life from donating blood. NUS believes that this lifetime ban is discriminatory and perpetuates the myth that AIDS is a “gay disease”.
The National Union of Students’ LGBT Campaign has campaigned against the ban for the past five years. Hundreds of LGBT students have joined the campaign, and thousands of people have signed their petition. Stonewall, the National Aids Trust, Unison LGBT and a growing number of scientific and medical experts have also publicly stated their concern about the ban.
The advisory committee for the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), who will ultimately decide any change in the NBS’ policy, has announced a public meeting as part of its review into donor referrals and exclusions. The NUS LGBT Campaign is holding a protest outside the meeting and will be providing information for the participants at the meeting.
They are calling for SaBTO to end the blanket ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood, and use selection criteria based on high-risk behaviour, and not on sexual orientation.
Daf Adley, NUS LGBT Officer said, “Whilst donating blood is not a right, it is a responsibility - one which healthy gay and bisexual men should be able to exercise without fear of prejudice or discrimination. The ban as it currently stands demeans their ability to participate in this altruistic act, and contributes to a damaging and prejudiced perception of gay and bisexual men which belongs in the past.”
The demonstration will take place outside the Royal Horticultural Halls Conference Centre, Greycoat St. (SW1P 2QD) on Tuesday 27 October from 1pm.