Discrimination continues at Canadian Blood Services

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Giving blood is a way to save lives and that is a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the well-being of many of our families, friends and neighbours. Well, not all of us have that opportunity. I have been vocal about this issue many times over the years and it needs attention again and again.

We contribute in many ways, giving to organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart Foundation, raising monies for research in all manner of illnesses, including mental disabilities, the list is endless. As Canadians we enjoy a wonderful reputation as givers and being a concerned society. However, it is not inclusive by any means.

For many years gay men have been barred from donating blood. The HIV/AIDS crisis during those years made the medical community rethink donations from men having sex with men, as this was thought to be a “gay” disease and remains so to this day without thought as to how this affects that segment of the population. HIV/AIDS affects all humankind and not gay men only. As a matter of interest, young teens, older folks, gay or straight, are affected by this disease.

The question remains that if that is so, why are members of these groups not banned from donating blood? If this is indeed the case then it becomes a matter of homophobia and blatant discrimination. It is also possible that not all blood donations are screened, making the case that regardless of who donates blood, a conclusion is not possible.

Canadian Blood Services announced earlier that instead of waiting a lifetime to be able to make donations for a gay man, it is now five years. That ludicrous rule does absolutely nothing to remedy the situation. As a gay man, I cannot give blood to save the life of someone, not even my own child. However, another person who has not been tested, or declines to be truthful will give blood. What happens to this donation? Does each donation go through a screening process? Apparently each donation is tested extremely carefully, according to a spokesperson.

I view this regulation as a hit against the gay community and needs urgent attention. This is a case of a discriminatory practice against the gay community. Next week I will address the organ donation issue. Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com


Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society, Heart Foundation, Blood Services

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Recent comments

  • John
    August 29, 2014 - 09:02

    It is very clear that this "activist" is not interested in facts and truth and has no medical training.

  • HumanBeing
    August 28, 2014 - 19:34

    Each and every unit is tested, exactly Citizen. So why does it matter if the person that donates is part of the LGBTQ community? Their blood will be tested for all communicable diseases that any straight person may acquire as well. This policy is based on old ways of thinking that need to be updated to consider facts we have learned over the last 25-30 years. There is no good reason people of the LGBTQ community need to feel that their way of life is any different from those who do not identify with that community. We are all people, and we all live to serve one another, no matter who, or how many people we take to bed with us at night. This policy is blatant discrimination, no matter how you try to frame it.

  • Mike
    August 27, 2014 - 21:55

    Why is it that whenever any "minority" group doesn't get their way, the first word they scream is discrimination? Come on, get a grip, if there's any reason or possibility that tainted blood could get in the system, the potential source must be headed off. The next thing you'll want Gerald is to have recreational drug users and those who live a throw caution to the wind lifestyle crying the same tune. I would not welcome the chance of getting some tainted blood by-product from anyone who has had multiple partners, gay or straight. That's why the questions and protocols are in place, so stop the whining.If the security of the blood products and services calls for "discrimination" then so be it.

  • Citizen
    August 27, 2014 - 09:00

    I agree that the policy not to accept blood donations from LGBT Canadians needs to be critically reviewed. However, you need to check your facts. Canadian Blood Services tests every blood unit. http://www.blood.ca/centreapps/internet/uw_v502_mainengine.nsf/page/Testing?OpenDocument

  • johnny smoke
    August 26, 2014 - 21:06

    Well I do not know about you Gerald but I remember the tainted blood fiasco of a few years back. If you are espousing that we forget the lessons learned in order to accommodate a narrow segment of society it ain't gonna happen not today, not tomorrow, not ever.