GLEN welcomes progress on removal of discriminatory blood ban

24 June 2016

GLEN has welcomed reports that the Board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service will recommend to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to remove the permanent ban on blood donation by gay men

"We welcome the decision by the IBTS to remove the permanent ban on blood donations by gay men. The replacement by a one-year deferral for gay men is good progress and we would expect that this would be kept under close review on the basis of the latest scientific evidence and experience in other countries" said Brian Sheehan, Director of GLEN.

The existing permanent ban is in place from the 1980's and was implemented at time of little information on or understanding of HIV. The IBTS has long accepted that the maintenance of the ban was discriminatory towards gay and bisexual men.

"The priority should be safety of the blood supply that any of us or our families may need at any time. Safety is assured by following the best available scientific knowledge and experience, and there was no longer any scientific basis for continuing the ban. Many other countries have removed the permanent ban, including Australia more than 15 years ago. In that context, removal of the permanent ban in Ireland was long overdue" continued Sheehan.

We acknowledge that the IBTS went through a thorough process to come to this decision, including a seminar in April that brought together leading experts in this area from across the world, and involved all the stakeholders, including GLEN.

"However the one-year deferral period still discriminates against many gay and bisexual men because of who they are when there is no scientific evidence to show that they should be excluded, for example a male couple in a committed long term relationship will continue to be denied the opportunity to donate blood" continued Sheehan.

"We will continue to work with the IBTS and the Department of Health to ensure that all traces of discrimination are removed", concluded Sheehan.

For further details, contact:
Brian Sheehan GLEN (086) 2330417
Davin Roche GLEN (087) 1319519