news

Blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men relaxed in Australia

However, some advocates say the rule changes don’t go far enough

2021-02-02

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pixabay

Rules around blood donation for gay and bisexual men in Australia have been relaxed.

The changes, which came into effect on Sunday (31 January 2021], were announced last year by the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood service.

Under new guidelines, gay and bisexual men may donate if they have been celibate for three months – a dramatic decrease from the previous waiting period of 12 months.

According to the ARCL, rules around trans donors are as such: "Lifeblood policy allows gender to be self-identified and self-reported. This enables blood donors to register as the gender by which they identify.

"However, there are important physical differences between males and females which might change during gender transition. In these cases, we’ll make certain adjustments to the donor assessment and blood collection process.

"In addition, transgender donors will be postponed from donating if they have had sex with a male or transgender partner in the last 3 months. This applies to donors who are either trans women or trans men."

“Screen donors for their individual sexual risk rather than the gender of their sexual partner”

Some advocates have complained that the changes are inadequate. Rodney Croome, blood equality advocate for the LGBTQ group just.equal, told Ladbible this week: "To remove discrimination and increase the supply of safe blood, Australia must adopt a new approach to blood donation that screens donors for their individual sexual risk rather than the gender of their sexual partner.

"The current governments of both the United States and the United Kingdom are committed to replacing their gay blood bans with individual risk assessment, and it's time for Australia to do the same.

"We call on the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service to ditch a policy American experts label 'illogical and unsubstantiated', and adopt a policy based on scientific evidence instead."

England announced it was relaxing blood donation for gay and bisexual men in December 2020.

In rules to be implemented from summer 2021, all blood donors who have had one sexual partner in the last three months, and have been with that partner for longer than three months, will be eligible.

Read the Attitude March issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £1 each, or digitally for just over £1.50 per issue.