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NI rule change allowing blood donations from some gay men set to take effect

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The rule change is set to take effect. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

The rule change is set to take effect. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

The rule change is set to take effect. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA

A change to blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland will be implemented from Monday.

Men who have been in a same-sex relationship with one partner for more than three months will be able to donate in a move that will result in an increase in eligible blood donors, the NI Blood Transfusion Service said.

It’s after the move, which has already been implemented in other parts of the UK, had previously been delayed due to staffing and training issues which prevented the change from taking place in June.

Everyone will be asked the same questions on health, travel and sexual behaviour regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, the NI Blood Transfusion Service said.

Until now, men who had been in a same-sex relationship had to wait for a year after their last sexual activity before donating blood before the rule was eventually reduced to three months.

Director of LGBTQ support group The Rainbow Project, John O'Doherty, said: "Donating blood is not a right, but a civic responsibility on all of us who are eligible to do so.”

"The focus of The Rainbow Project will now turn to encouraging all those people who are now eligible to register as blood donors.

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"Security and sustainability in our blood supply is a continued pressure across our health service – and while vocal and visible support for the NHS during the pandemic is to be welcomed – one of the most effective ways we can support our NHS is through donating blood,” he said. 

Sinn Fein MLA Emma Sheerin welcomed the changes.

“This change will allow men who have sex with men with one sexual partner who they have been with for more than three months to donate blood,” she said.

“This is a step forward for the LBGT community and for equality. It will also increase the number of people who can become blood donors which will increase the supply of blood and save lives.”


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