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Gay Men Turned Away From Blood Banks Following Orlando Attacks

There's a fresh call to lift the 12-month ban

Following the devastating attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida that claimed 49 lives and injured dozens more, there was naturally a desperate need for blood donations.

Hundreds of locals headed to Orlando blood banks to offer their support to those in need, however because of the restrictions placed on sexually active gay men donating blood, many healthy candidates were turned away.

“It adds insult to injury. Here we have someone who murders 50 of our brothers and sisters, and then our own government turns around and says we’re not allowed to help them simply because we’re gay,” Scott Wiener told the Guardian.

Donors lining up outside OneBlood blood bank in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Getty

“There is no basis in science for this ban, and that is pure and simple discrimination.”


Six members of the U.S. Congress have since sent a letter to the FDA Commissioner requesting they lift the 12-month ban.

“Our federal blood policy is based on the ’80s, when fear and hysteria ruled,” Anthony Hayes, vice president of public affairs and policy for Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) tells Newsweek.


“We have a policy that is based on discrimination instead of science and data. It’s policy based on whom someone may sleep with.”

The ban, which also stands here in Australia, states that gay men can donate blood but must wait 12-months from their last sexual encounter with another man.

 “Due to the FDA’s deferral policy for gay and bisexual men, many healthy potential blood donors are prohibited from donating,” US Congressman Mike Quigley said in a statement.

“The cruel irony of this deferral policy is personified by this particular terrorist attack, where the victims were targeted for being members of the LGBT community and the gay and bisexual men who wanted to donate blood for those in need were banned from doing so.”

The FDA have responded saying they have no plans to review the policy at this stage, however they would consider it if “new scientific information becomes available”.

“The FDA has examined the possibility of eliminating all deferrals for HIV and simply relying on testing of donated blood or reducing the deferral window; however, scientifically robust data are not available to show that this would not lead to decreased safety of the blood supply,” read a statement form the FDA to the Guardian.

“Therefore, deferral policies continue to have an important role in ensuring the safety of the blood supply.”

A recent call for the ban to be lifted here in Australia was also denied, with the next review of the policy not expected until 2018.

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