Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has
lauded the end of Britain's gay donor blood ban, but British activist
Peter Tatchell says it is not good enough.
On Thursday, UK's Department of Health
announced it was lifting its lifetime ban on men who have sex with
men from donating blood. As of November 7, gay men who are
HIV-negative will be eligible to donate blood.
But there is a caveat, the men must not
have engaged in sexual activity – oral or anal – within the past
12 months. That is, only celibate men need apply.
And it's that asterisk that has
Tatchell speaking out against the new rules.
“Although the new policy is a big
improvement on the existing exclusion, a 12-month ban is still
excessive and unjustified. Most gay and bisexual men do not have HIV
and will never have HIV. If they always have safe sex with a condom,
have only one partner and test HIV negative, their blood is safe to
donate,” Tatchell wrote in an op-ed published in the UK's Guardian.
“This is unjustified. If a condom is
used correctly, it is very effective against the transmission and
contraction of HIV. Men who use condoms every time without breakages
– and who test HIV negative – should not be barred from donating
blood,” he added.
In America, where gay and bisexual men
continue to face a lifetime ban, the reaction was quite different.
Senator Kerry, who
has previously led efforts to alter the policy, lauded the move.
“I think this is likely the start of
a trend globally that I'd rather we be leading than following,”
Kerry told gay glossy The
Advocate. “This is a very close ally who sees the same
information we do, and they've determined that gay donors pose no
risk to the blood supply.”