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Scotland debates completely lifting the gay blood ban

By Josh Lee

Scotland may become the first place in the UK to allow men who sleep with men, trans women, and non-binary trans people who were assigned male at birth, to donate blood restriction-free.

Member of Scottish Parliament Rona Mackay tabled a motion to lift donation restrictions, which was debated yesterday (November 29).

Currently, those affected by the restrictions must wait 12 months after their last sexual encounter to donate blood. A lifetime ban on blood donations for men who sleep with men, and trans people assigned male at birth, was in place from 1981 until 2011 in most of the UK, when the 12-month deferral policy was introduced. However, Northern Ireland didn’t relax restrictions until September this year.

Members of the Scottish Parliament from all major parties backed Ms Mackay’s calls to waive the deferral period, which was described as “archaic” and “discriminatory” during the debate.

Following the debate, she said: “I was proud to lead the debate into lifting this discriminatory ban for men who have sex with men donating blood in Scotland.

“This regulation unfairly targets sexual orientation of gay and bisexual men instead of sexual behaviours.

“Of course, there must be stringent donor selection criteria aimed at protecting both donors and recipients of blood transfusions, no one would ever argue otherwise, but I believe that these should not be based on sexual orientation, but on participation in high-risk behaviour.”

Throughout the rest of Great Britain, groups such as Freedom To Donate have been campaigning to completely equalise blood donation rules. In November 2015, the British Government announced they would commission a review into the current 12-month deferral period.