"IT'S IN YOU TO GIVE"
BUT NOT IF YOU ARE A GAY OR BISEXUAL MAN
Toronto: Today, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) announced its intention to continue to exclude gay and bisexual men from donating blood and to "indefinitely defer" gay and bisexual men, even those who have never engaged in unsafe sexual activity, from giving blood.
"We are not advocating for a right to give blood," said Tamara Kronis, Egale Canada's Director of Advocacy. However, Kronis explains, "everyone has a right to be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. The effect of the CBS blood questionnaire is that it excludes potential donors based on sexual orientation rather than on unsafe sexual practices."
Canadian Blood Services has a duty to ensure the safety of the blood supply for all of its consumer groups. "Groups of people do not create risk to the blood supply," said Egale Canada's Executive Director Helen Kennedy. "Unsafe behaviour creates risk to the blood supply and the continued stereotyping of gay and bisexual men causes real harm in our society."
Egale Canada calls on Canadian Blood Services to take the following remedial steps to minimize the impact of its discriminatory policies:
- Make it clear in the information presented to donors about the questionnaire that some of the questions are discriminatory but that no moral judgements are, or should be, implied.
- Conduct meaningful research on both the medical risks of transmission and how to better ask behaviour-based questions. It is clear that the current question is both over and under inclusive. Over-inclusive because it includes men in long term monogamous relationships and men who are diligent about safe sex practices.
- Canadian Blood Services should make other efforts to counteract the discriminatory effects of their policies through sensitivity training for their staff and volunteers.
Egale Canada would be pleased to work with CBS to rectify its policies and questionnaire so that they are based on unsafe behaviour rather than on sexual orientation. Egale Canada would also support CBS' efforts to adjust its questionnaire to support various gender identities.
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For More Information:
Tamara Kronis, 416-951-8765
Helen Kennedy, 416-270-1999