Twitter have taken a company stance to stop on-site blood donations from their staff, because a gay employee was turned away.
The man was rejected at a drive being held at the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco in April, and immediately filed a complaint with human resources, at which point the company decided to halt donations altogether.
Speaking to the International Business Times, Brian Schipper, Twitter’s Vice President of Human Resources and Executive Sponsor of TwitterOpen (the company’s LGBT employee resource group) said, “We made the choice to take a company stand against some of our employees being turned away from donating blood and will channel our efforts into education about this issue until this unnecessary and discriminatory policy is changed.”
The Federal Drug Administration has banned men who have sex with men from donating blood since 1983, at the heights of the AIDS crisis, but the ban has never been repealed. In May, the FDA proposed changing the lifetime ban to a 12 month ban, although Twitter have indicated they do not find this acceptable either.
Twitter shared the news after being given a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, as one of the best places to work in terms of LGBT equality.
The Human Rights Campaign – an LGBT civil rights advocacy group – argue that a three month deferral is adequate time to protect the blood supply, based on research around how long it takes for HIV antibodies to be detected by a test. David Stacy, who is the government affairs director for the group also spoke to the IBT.
“We want our blood supply to be safe, and the good news is that the science shows we can have a safe blood supply without having a discriminatory policy,” he explained. “The terrible thing is when a gay man goes to give blood and suddenly is told ‘We’re not accepting your blood.’ That can be really hurtful.”
Stacy welcomed the move from Twitter, as he said this kind of boycott from a major international brand can draw positive attention to the issue. “There are times when there is a shortage of blood and it is very important that people who can donate [do] donate,” he said. “But right now in the U.S., there is an ample supply of blood, so people taking a stance makes sense.”