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18 Sep 2015
A nationwide campaign to overturn rulings which prohibit men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood to the National Blood Service has launched this week. The FreedomToDonatecampaign has been set up to review current guidelines, giving MSM who practice safe sex the same rights as straight men.
Under current guidelines, a straight man who has unprotected sex with women can donate blood but a gay man who practices safe sex cannot. FreedomToDonate believe this counterproductive ruling is inhibiting a large volume of willing individuals from donating. Over the past decade there has been a 40% drop in the number of UK donors.
The National Blood Servicehas recently launched the Help Us Fill the Gaps campaign – trying to find 204,000 new donors across all blood groups to satisfy current and future demand. With 6,000 life-saving blood transfusions taking place in the UK every day – it is vital that a sufficient number of donors can be located.
FreedomToDonate believe that allowing MSM to donate their blood could significantly increase the number of donors. Currently, MSM who have remained celibate for the 12 months preceding a donation are permitted to give blood – a rule the campaign is looking to overturn.
The National Blood Service has relaxed rules regarding MSM donating blood in recent years – until 2011 gay men were permanently excluded from giving blood. However, FreedomToDonate and other charities who are backing the campaign such as Stonewall believe that this should just be the start of giving gay men the same blood donating rights as straight men.
FreedomToDonate founder, Ethan Spibey, started the campaign because of a deep desire to donate blood. He explained: "Like many of the people involved in this campaign, blood donation is a very personal topic for me. My grandad is alive because someone donated blood and the fact I can’t do the same for someone else is, for me, fundamentally wrong. I’m passionate about this campaign so I hope people will get behind us and support our belief that those who are able to give blood safely, should be able to.”
A number of countries in the EU currently have no restrictions upon blood donation based upon sexual orientation. Spibey and the FreedomToDonate team hopes that the UK National Blood Service follows the standard set by the likes of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latvia and Poland.
NHS and TV doctor Dr Ranj Singh, has leant his full support to the FreedomToDonate campaign and explains: "There are a lot of people who would want to donate blood who might not be able to with the regulations that are in place, and I don’t think that’s fair. Anything we can do to safely increase donations is worth doing.”
Safe sex should be the criteria for blood donors rather than their sexual orientation. For straight and gay men alike, the Freedoms shop’s range of condoms can help you have safe sex. Visit our shop here or call our team now on 020 7685 5977.