Today’s decision by Health Canada to authorize Canadian Blood Services to change its approach to blood and plasma donor screening ends a decades-long discriminatory ban which has targeted Two-Spirit, gay, bisexual, and queer men, trans women, and other men who have sex with men (2SGBTQ+/MSM).
“Today’s change in blood donor policies at Canadian Blood Services is long overdue and marks a significant victory in our efforts to end the discriminatory blood ban,” says Toby Whitfield, Chair of the All Blood is Equal Coalition. “For decades the blood ban perpetuated homophobic and transphobic discrimination against the 2SLGBTQ+ community. While our work will continue, today’s announcement is an important step towards righting this wrong.”
The Coalition will continue its work in the months ahead to support reconciliation between our community and blood operators, address testing processes that continue to limit individuals who take PrEP and PEP from donating blood, ensure the introduction of appropriate training for frontline blood donor staff, advocate for the same regulatory change to be adopted by Hema Quebec and work to address other challenges that continue to exist.
Activists, 2SLGBTQ+ organizations, students’ unions and labour unions have long advocated an end to this discriminatory ban. A lifetime ban was introduced in 1992 and changed to a 5 year deferral period in 2013. This deferral period has been shorted since 2013 but remained discriminatory because any ban reinforces the idea that blood donated from the 2SGBTQ/MSM community posed unique public health risks, which is false.
The All Blood is Equal Coalition is a national coalition of Canadian organizations committed to ending Canada’s discriminatory blood donation ban.
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