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Surely what matters is how, not who?

June 25, 2009 11:18 PM

Lib Dem Equalities spokesperson Lynne Featherstone MP has spoken up about the ban on gay and bisexual men, and their female partners, from donating blood. In the debate on the Equalities Bill on 18 June, she said: "If I were a gay man in a monogamous civil partnership and wanted to give blood, I would not be allowed to. If I were a sexually active straight man, I would. Surely there is a case for the safety of the blood supply's being based on an individual's behaviour and the consequential risk of that behaviour, rather than eliminating a whole group."

She added, "The national health service says that sexual behaviour is its reason for exclusion, not sexual orientation. Nevertheless, only gay men who are virgins are allowed to give blood. Surely it is time to introduce a more sophisticated model and change the current restrictions to reflect behavioural risk on an individual basis, rather than having a blanket ban on a group. That might give better protection because there is relatively little investigation into, or inhibition on, those who are not homosexual.

"Current practices in Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand place no lifetime ban on gay men. I believe we should follow their lead. The Anthony Nolan Trust has recently lifted its ban on bone marrow donations by gay men. The Bill offers an opportunity to begin that process of change from blanket bans to a system based only on the risk that an individual's behaviour poses."

However, with a clear lack of wider support, Lynne withdrew an amendment to the Bill she proposed without it being put to a vote.