Scotland Could Lift Ban on Gay Blood Donation

“In the name of equality, Scotland needs to go further to ensure everyone—no matter what your sexuality—is allowed to donate blood,” said Rona Mackay, a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and member of the Scottish National Party, to Scottish newspaper the National. Currently, gay and bisexual men in Scotland must abstain from sex for a year before being able to donate blood (as in the United States), but Mackay has tabled a motion that will see the issue debated in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow, Tuesday.

Mackay cites that blood donors are in high demand throughout the country, which makes lifting the ban a smart move. It would also place blood donation in the same realm of restriction as organ, stem cell and blood marrow donation, all of which men who have sex with men can do freely.

“It is time to end this archaic ruling against gay and bisexual men,” Mackay said, “and prove once again that this parliament is a beacon of fairness and equality to the world.”

Stonewall Scotland—among other equality campaigners—has said lifting the ban would be a step toward a fair donation system. “Straight people who may have had unprotected sex can donate. These current rules are clearly unfair and we want to see people asked similar questions—irrespective of their sexual orientation—to accurately assess the risk of infection,” the organization says. “Screening all donors by sexual behavior rather than by sexual orientation would increase blood stocks in times of shortage and create a safer supply by giving a more accurate, non-discriminatory assessment.”