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Heartstopper’s Joe Locke calls for change to ‘archaic’ gay blood donation rules on Isle of Man

"There is still work to be done".

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Jordan Rossi

Joe Locke, of Netflix’s queer drama Heartstopper, has called on the Isle of Man government to remove the discriminatory and “archaic” rule that prevents gay men from donating blood. 

His call for action was in the midst of a video message for Isle of Pride, the Isle of Man’s Pride annual celebration and march, on Saturday (13 August).

The 18-year-old actor, who is from the island, outlined that “the island has come so far in the last 30 years,” pointing to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2016 and the 2021 ban of ‘conversion therapy’ for all LGBT people, something the UK government is still yet to enforce. 

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“There is still work to be done, the Isle of Man to this day does not allow gay men to donate blood, an archaic rule that was placed into force in the height of the Aids pandemic,” Locke states. 

Last year in the UK rules changed so that anyone with the same sexual partner for three months or more is eligible to donate. Anyone who has had anal sex with a new or multiple partners still has to wait three months to donate.

On the Isle of Man, there was a consultation in 2014 but no change has been made to the 1980s ban that was put in place, as Locke details, “in the height of the Aids pandemic”.

Locke concludes: “I call upon the Manx government and our politicians to change this archaic rule and bring the island one step closer on its journey to acceptance.”

Isle of Pride committee member Clare Barber MHK supported Locke’s call for the ban to be overturned, telling the BBC she agrees that the change is an “absolute no-brainer”.

Barber details that the island has a “huge population of men” who wanted to “do something that helps other people” but “for reasons that don’t make any sense in a modern world they’re restricted from doing so.”

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.