Last week Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz took a historic step forward for equal rights for the LGBT community in Israel by announcing that all restrictions on blood donations from homosexual men will be lifted.

Currently in Ireland, gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM) must abstain from any sexual contact (regardless of the use of condoms and/or PrEP) for a minimum of 12 months before meeting the criteria for donating blood. The same criteria do not apply to heterosexual blood donors.

Senator O’Loughlin said, “I have been lobbying my colleagues in the Department of Health to end this blatant inequality, and to implement an individual risk assessment in terms of blood donation for gay and bi-sexual men in this country.

“Ending discrimination in blood donations in this country would be another historic step for the gay community and for wider equality agenda.

“At its core, we are saying that the blood of an entire sub section of our society is second class, and not wanted and that is fundamentally wrong.

“We are importing blood from jurisdictions that do not discriminate against gay and bi-sexual men, we are experiencing a blood shortage, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service are calling for new blood donors- while at the same time we are needlessly refusing blood from an entire section of our society. It makes absolutely no sense.

“After much lobbying of my government colleagues, the department announced the establishment of a post-surveillance monitoring group, chaired by a representative of the Office of the CMO to review the impact of lifting the life ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men. This group will assess the impact, if any, of lifting the life ban which was in place until 2017. This is most welcome, and I believe is the first step in achieving equality in terms of blood donation criteria for gay and bi-sexual men.

Senator O’Loughlin concluded “We need to implement a more equitable system of blood donation, and in the midst of a blood shortage, we need to allow all those who can donate safely to do so. Removing the degrading 12 month ban for gay and bi-sexual men is a no brainer, and needs to be expedited.”