On June 12, 2016, mass shooting in a gay club in Florida, USA shocked the community worldwide. This was known as one of the goriest violence infliction on the LGBTQ community.
However, after the incident, shocking revelations were made where a lot of bisexual or gay men who wanted to donate blood were refused from doing so.
It was only then that this issue got highlighted. The US law was seen as discriminatory in nature as it placed a ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.
Initially, a lifetime ban was placed and no gay man could donate blood. But in 2012 new rules came into place. As per the new rule, men had to have a gap of one year after any sexual contact with another man only then can they be eligible for blood donation.
Medical Reason or Homophobia?
Medical research shows that HIV or Hepatitis B risk in the gay community is higher than the rest of the population due to which they are restricted from donating blood.
In fact, they are more likely to get any transmissible infections. If one goes by stats, gay men make up roughly half of the HIV infected patients in the USA.
Rates of blood-borne infections are highest in gay men thus a ban was placed on them.
This ban cannot be termed as homophobic in nature because this restriction applies to sexual practices and not on one’s sexual orientation.
This restriction is only to maximise the safety of the blood collected.
This restriction is also applied to patients who’ve had injected drugs, sex workers and patients who’ve engaged in sexual activity in areas where the prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis B is the highest.
Different countries have different stands on this issue. Apart from the USA, 23 other countries enforce the same policy. Some countries like Taiwan require a gap of 5 years from any sexual contact involving another man. Whereas some countries like Italy have no ban because there they screen individuals on the basis of sexual behaviour instead of sexual orientation.
This highly controversial ban is one of the widely discussed topics in the medical field.
A lot more research is yet to go into this sensitive issue because this ban greatly adds on to the existing homophobia and makes matters worse.
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