Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Homosexuals to show anger at Edwin Poots’ stance by queuing to give blood

A protest is to be staged outside a blood donor session over the ban on gay men being allowed to donate.

It comes amid anger over a decision by Health Minister Edwin Poots to prevent gay people from giving blood.

The protest will take place outside the Playhouse in Londonderry on August 2 from 5.30pm.

A second protest will also be staged inside the building, where organisers say gay men will queue up and offer to give blood. The Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service is due to take donations at the Artillery Street venue on August 2 and 3.

Protest organiser Connor Kelly (right) said it was ridiculous that a large section of the population is being excluded from donating blood.

The Derry singer/songwriter said people should have the right to give blood regardless of sexual orientation.

The Department of Health yesterday insisted Mr Poots had yet to finalise his position with regards to gay men donating blood.

Last month the Health Minister said new research strengthened his resolve not to allow gay men and those who engage in “high-risk sexual behaviour” to donate.

In the rest of the UK gay men are now allowed to donate, providing they have not had sexual contact for 12 months.

The High Court in Belfast has ruled a gay man had established an arguable case that Mr Poots' stance was irrational and unlawful. Leave has been granted to seek a judicial review and a full hearing is listed for December.

Mr Kelly said: “The Health Minister’s position plays into myths about gay people being inferior or tainted or somehow unclean, and that can be quite dangerous.”

Mr Kelly said that as all blood was screened before use there was no need for a blanket ban. He added: “It will be a joyful protest. This is a human rights issue.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Health said yesterday: “The minister has not yet made a final decision on this matter.

“The position has changed in Great Britain, but Northern Ireland’s current position is the same as that in nearly all of Europe including the Republic, and the United States and Canada.

“Before making a final decision on what is best for Northern Ireland, the minister will consider all the relevant evidence.”

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