In light of the recent Orlando tragedy, it's more important than ever that we recognize World Blood Donor Day and the stereotype it continues to perpetuate.



This Is Why World Blood Donor Day Needs to Change

Today is World Blood Donor Day, and especially in light of the horrific Orlando shooting this past weekend, recognizing it is more important than ever. It’s ironic that the very people who were targeted on Saturday night—the LGBTQ community—are the same people who are prohibited from giving blood. The ban was enacted by the Food and Drug Administration, and states that any homosexual who wants to give blood can only do so if they’ve been celibate for a year. It’s outdated, discriminatory, and our government needs to take responsibility for it. Today at the steps of City Hall in New York, Blood Equality, an activist group launched in partnership with Gay Men’s Health Crisis to help fight against the discrimination that potential gay and bisexual donors face, held a press conference in hopes of eradicating this stigma.

“In the critical hours following the Orlando shooting, blood donors were in high demand,” said Anthony Hayes, Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy at GMHC. “Local officials urged those in the area to donate blood to help the victims. But there was a group of people missing from the blood centers. They were unable to provide life-saving help to their community, their fellow Americans, in a time of dire need. The LGBT’s blood was not missing because they did not want to help, it was missing because our federal government still believes that gay and bisexual men are diseased despite the science that says differently.”

In December of 2015, the FDA lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men from giving blood and replaced it with another one that looked less harmful, but ultimately led to the same discrimination. Any male donor who has had sex with another man or any woman who has had sex with a bisexual man, the new ban states, is prohibited from giving blood for the 12 months after the time they’ve had sex. Even if the donor has been in a monogamous marriage for over a year, the ban still holds. Hayes went on to discuss how this law is useless if the end goal is to prevent contamination. Heterosexuals despite what these people seem to think, are not immune to sexually transmitted diseases.

“Even thought the FDA believes that gay men need to be celibate for one year for the blood supply to be safe, they do not have the same requirement for heterosexuals. I want to say loud and clear today that HIV is not a gay disease. Heterosexual people can and do contract it.”

Hayes and the Gay Men’s Health Club do have a plan for changing the ban. They believe in science over stigma and they are willing to work with the FDA to come up with an appropriate policy that allows gay men to donate blood safely.

If we don’t change this ban, our country is failing its citizens more than it already has with its lack of gun safety and control. It’s difficult to use the word “celebrate” on World Blood Donor Day if the community that needs it the most isn’t allowed to contribute.

Blood Equality in partnership with GMHC, FCB Health, and artist Jordan Eagles will be holding a gathering in solidarity tonight at the High Line at 8 pm. The event will feature screenings, art projection, and music in the name of raising awareness to end the one-year ban.

For more on tonight’s High Line event, visit their website.

Stay tuned to Milk for more on World Blood Donor Day.

Related Stories

New Stories

Load More


Like Us On Facebook