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Background Info

The current regulation preventing the LGBT+ community from giving blood is due for reform. A lifetime ban on donations from men who have sex with men was originally introduced in 1983, and was lowered to a 12 month ban in 2011.

Despite this reform the ban is still based on the gender (or gender assigned at birth) of the person you have had sex with and not on risk associated with that sex, and therefore is discriminatory.

In the Scottish Parliament chamber on 29/11/2016 whilst discussing motion S5M-01537 it was noted that the blood donation ban on men who have sex with men also affects additional groups. Confusion in the regulations has led to trans women and non-binary people being unable to provide blood as well. As some service providers have interpreted the regulations as 'people who are assigned male at birth who have sex with people who are assigned male at birth', these individuals are (wrongly) unable to donate blood. The ban also extends to women who have had sex with men, where those men have also had sex with men.

Protecting both donors and recipients of transfusions is key and should always be a priority. The set of regulations prevents many low risk LGBT+ people from donating blood but could still allow high risk cisgender heterosexual people to donate. A more accurate assessment of individual risk would allow low risk LGBT+ people to give blood, and at the same time would better screen out people who are high risk.

Current regulations wrongly sees all sexual activity between men high risk. This includes men who are monogamous, only have oral sex and use condoms or other forms of protection. This contradicts and undermines messages of safe sex promoted by various organisations and the Scottish government. Most worryingly, the continued, blanket ban, is not based on up to date evidence and there has been no wholesale review of the system to take acount of advances in testing and screening technologies. 


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