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Trudeau promises to lift ban on blood donations

REFOCUS by Gerard Veldhoven

A platform promise by Justin Trudeau would lift the ban on blood donations by gay men.

This already has become a non-issue in many other Western nations. Rigorous testing to determine if the HIV virus is present should put fears to rest that gay men are the only carriers of this dreaded disease. The reality is that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can be a carrier and research tells us that fact. To single out gay men is a ludricrous, unfair and discriminatory practice.

Our new prime minister has promised to end this homophobic attitude and make it legal for all to donate blood.

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 around the country. Gay men, believe it or not, contribute in many ways, giving to organizations such as, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart Foundation and the list is endless.

As Canadians we enjoy a wonderful reputation as givers and contributors, being part of a concerned society, that is to say, not entirely inclusive.

For many years gay men have been barred from donating blood and organs which save the lives of millions. The HIV/AIDS crisis since the early 1980s made the medical community think donations from gay men may be a way to spread the virus as this was thought to be a gay disease. HIV/AIDS affects all humankind and this fact has been proven over and over again. Teens, older folks, regardless of sexual orientation are affected by this disease.

The question remains, if this is so, why are members of these groups not barred from donating blood? If this is indeed the case then it becomes a matter of pure homophobia and blatant discrimination. The Canadian Blood Services now requires a five-year abstinence instead of a lifetime ban. This ludricrous rule does absolutely nothing to remedy the situation. A gay man is not “allowed” to give blood to save someone’s life, not even his own child or other family member. This lack of understanding has a tremendous negative effect on a person who, due to no fault of his own, happens to be a gay man.

Thousands of folks around this nation fight for equal treatment resulting in some Canadians listening and joining in to make this a more inclusive nation. These allies are a necessary development to assist in erasing homophobia and therefore, lessening discrimination.

Prime Minister Trudeau and his government have promised to step in and eliminate the discriminatory action by the Canadian Blood Services and none too soon. Time cannot be wasted and blood donations must be a service that should be provided by all, regardless of sexual orientation. Our appreciation goes out to Canada’s prime minister for having the insight for this positive change.

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

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