Earlier this week, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the Government of Canada accepted a proposal from the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) to reduce the blood donation ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) from five years to one. This ban is being described by the Minister as incremental change, a step towards what is right. Students know that it is time to end the ban, once and for all.
The Canadian Federation of Students has long advocated for an end to the blood ban policy on men who have sex with men (MSM), introduced and upheld since 1985. The Federation remains committed to opposing all discriminatory blood bans of any duration.
The Federation also strongly condemns the new transphobic policy adopted by CBS that establishes arbitrary blood donation bans based on one’s genitalia and attempts to define and enforce oppressive definitions of gender identity and expression. A lifetime ban, a 5 year ban or a 1 year ban is still a ban and it sends the same message to queer and trans people: your bodies and your lifestyle are unsafe.
These policies are based on stereotypes and not science. Today we have significant knowledge about HIV/AIDS, enormous public education about prevention and new technology that can detect HIV within less than two weeks days after infection. CBS currently estimates the risk of undetected HIV-positive blood being introduced into the blood supply at one in eight million.
It is unfortunate that Canadian Blood Services continues to run ad campaigns that stress the increasing need for blood donations while a discriminatory ban continues to block blood donations from a significant portion of the population. Both Canadian Blood Services and Minister Philpott recognize that changing the blood ban from 5 years to one will not dramatically increase the number of eligible donors.
While Health Canada attempted to make this policy change a “feel good” announcement in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy and during Pride month, this announcement has instead reaffirmed the institutional homophobia and transphobia that persists in Canada and underscores that the fight is far from over for the LGBTQ+ community.
Contact Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott now and demand that she end the ban.
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