Media Release
Thursday April 23rd 2020
Equality advocates have written to all Australian federal, state and territory health ministers asking them to support lifting the celibacy requirement for gay and transgender Australians who want to give blood.
The letter, from LGBTIQ advocacy group, just.equal, comes in response to the decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to reduce the gay and transgender celibacy periods from twelve months to three.
The TGA decision must be approved by all federal, state and territory governments before it can come into effect.
The letter from just.equal also suggests a series of questions for health ministers to put to the TGA to determine the reasons for the proposed three-month deferral.
Spokesperson for just.equal, Rodney Croome, said,
“We support a blood screening policy that assess potential donors for the safety of their sexual activity rather than the gender of their sexual partner."
"Such a policy would make the blood supply safer, increase the supply of blood available to those in need, and consign to history a blood donor policy that stigmatises gay and transgender people as a threat to public health.”
“We have written to all health ministers, and to our allies in federal, state and territory parliaments, asking them to support a less discriminatory donor policy and subject the TGA’s proposal to the proper scrutiny it requires.”
Currently, all gay or bisexual men must be celibate for twelve months before they can donate blood. Transgender men and women cannot donate blood if they have had sex with a man in the last twelve months.
The TGA’s proposal is to reduce these celibacy periods to three months.
“The three-month celibacy period doesn’t remove the stigma faced by gay and transgender people who seek to donate blood and is unlikely to increase the blood supply, so we want to know the science behind it”, Mr Croome said.
“In 2014 the TGA rejected a proposal from the Red Cross Blood Service, Lifeblood, to reduce the celibacy period from twelve months to six, so why the about-face now?”
“We would like to know if the TGA has considered expert evidence to Tasmanians Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in the case taken by Michael Cain which found there are gay men who currently can’t donate, whose blood is safer than the blood of heterosexual people who can donate?”
“Also, has the TGA taken into account research from the highly-respected Williams Institute at UCLA which estimates that if the gay blood ban was lifted in the United States an additional 615,300 pints of blood would be available per year which is the equivalent of an extra 22,400 litres in Australia?”
Mr Croome said the proposed three-month celibacy period should not be seen as a step forward.
“The three-month deferral is a step forward in the same way standing on a chair brings you closer to the moon."
For a copy of this statement on the web, click here
For more information contact Rodney Croome on 0409 010 668