Gay men still don't have equal blood donation rights, this charity is trying to change that

Gay men still don't have equal blood donation rights, this charity is trying to change that

Currently, gay and bisexual men are not allowed to donate blood in the United Kingdom unless they have abstained for at least three months.

Despite the various screenings and checks required prior to donation, any gay or bisexual man - as well as any commercial sex worker - is banned if they've had sex within the last three months. Heterosexual women are also included if they're known to have had sex with a 'high-risk' partner (essentially - a gay or bisexual man).

Previously, the time restriction was 12 months; this was lowered last year, although the same rules still don't apply to heterosexual donors engaging regularly in unprotected sex.

Not even proof that the donor is taking preventative medication - PrEP or PEP, for example - is enough, despite a well-documented global shortage of blood donations.

In order to highlight just how ridiculous these rules sound, the Peter Tatchell Foundation - a leading LGBT+ charity - has created a new satirical campaign: 'Screen the blood, not the sexuality.'

At the heart of the campaign is a video, which sees a man take to the streets with a 'Gaydr', a makeshift instrument created to test whether or not potential donors are gay. Some laughed in disbelief, others pointed out that infections aren't unique to the LGBT+ community and some - well, some just did what we all did in arguments, and asked Siri.

These regulations date back to the height of the AIDs crisis, when a worldwide 'gay panic' led to deeply discriminatory legislation, such as the UK's Section 28. Although gay and bisexual men are still at disproportionately high risk of contracting HIV, they are not the only affected demographic; on top of that, the rigorous screenings required to donate include an HIV test.

In an official press statement, the Foundation wrote:

We created 'The Gaydr' - a pseudo 'gay detector' device - which we used to scan heterosexual men on their way to a blood bank in central London, in order to make them feel the same sense of exclusion experienced by sexually active gay and bisexual men in many countries.

The spoof Gaydr scan informed them that they were actually gay, and not allowed to donate blood.

Although light-hearted, the video was intended to send a more serious message:

We say that blood services worldwide should base their donor rules on sexual behaviour, not sexual orientation.

Click here to take the Gaydr test yourself, and to sign a petition calling for an update of this legislation.

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