Keeping it in the room: health, happiness and living in Berlin
The High Court in Northern Ireland has ordered the lifting of an ‘irrational’ lifetime ban on gay men giving blood.
The country’s Minister of Health, Edwin Poots, maintained the ban on the basis of ‘ensuring public safety’, even though it was found to have no rational basis and was lifted in lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.
But a gay man, who was granted anonymity due to his perceived vulnerability, launched a judicial review challenge to Poots’ position on blood donation.
According to the BBC, the court was told that blood from men who have sex with men (MSM) is so dangerous that it must never be used. But the country imports blood from countries where MSM is allowed to be taken, rendering the ban pointless and prejudicial.
Declaring the decision irrational, the judge said on Friday: ‘If there is a genuine concern about the safety of MSM-donated blood, such that the blood stock must be protected absolutely from such blood, then the security of that blood must actually be maintained absolutely.’
He also said that the ban breached the ministerial code since Poots had failed to consult Stormont.
Alliance Party health spokesman Kieran McCarthy said the DUP MP’s position as health minister had been ‘seriously compromised’ and he should ‘consider his position’.
‘He has been badly advised and now has serious questions to answer. Not only has he wasted public funds, but he also acted to prejudice one section of society in Northern Ireland,’ he said.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of National Aids Trust, added: ‘NAT hopes that following this judgement, Northern Ireland will end its lifetime ban and will also adopt the 12 month deferral rule used in the rest of the UK, which is based on current scientific evidence about real risk of HIV and Hepatitis B transmission. It is great to see that decisions based on prejudice – not evidence – are being successfully challenged.’