John Dali, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, has stated that a blanked ban on Gay and Bisexual Men giving blood is against EU law.
In an answer to Glenis Willmott (S&D) and Michael Cashman (S&D) he explained that EU law warranted the deferral of those “at high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases” due to their “sexual behaviour”. Mr Dalli underlined that “‘sexual behaviour’ is not identical with ‘sexual orientation’”.
The Commission also noted that when implementing EU law, Member States must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. This means a blanket ban on all gay and bisexual men would be illegal under EU law.
According to the European Parliaments Intergroup on LGBT Rights, National Authorities often cite a 2004 Directive on technical requirements for blood and blood components to justify the ban. Most member states have a de facto ban on gay men from giving blood and this includes Ireland.
Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said the Commission’s answer “makes a lot of sense. Commissioner John Dalli reminds Member States that it is individuals who are at risk—not groups. Being gay or bisexual cannot automatically pose a threat to public health; but risky sexual behaviour in men or women, gay or straight, is a real risk. I hope the British government’s announcement later today will prefer scientific evidence to prejudice.”
Further commenting the Commission’s answer, Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup and Member of the Committee on Public Health added: “It is our highest priority to look after public health, and thus take care of the quality of donated blood. But health ministers must bear in mind that sexual orientation, ethnic background and other identity traits are fully irrelevant to a person’s health. Denying blood donation from these groups is discriminatory and goes fully against logic.”
- Gay men set to give blood (independent.co.uk)
- If Thailand can accept Gay Blood Donors, Why Can’t Ireland? (stephenspillane.com)