A petition calling for the UK government to remove the ban on gay blood donations attracted over 8,000 signatures before it closed at the weekend.
Mr King who set up the petition said reaching 8,000 signatures was a “fantastic achievement” adding “In the past year the campaign to end the gay blood ban has come so far, we’ve had leaflets on stalls at university freshers’ fayres across the country, there’s been coverage in national newspapers, the Liberal Democrats made opposition to the ban their official policy and today 8,082 people have called on the Government to end this ban once and for all.“
A year ago the blanket ban on gay blood was partially lifted, allowing men who have sex with men to donate, providing they hadn‘t done so for a whole year before donating. Many saw this as a blanket ban just under another name and also indicative of the homophobia and prejudice of the blood service.
“The move to a 12 month deferral was a small step forward but for sexually active gay and bisexual men it is a ban in all but name and it was a decision entirely lacking in scientific foundation.” said King.
The petition called for a blanket ban on ‘men who have sex with men’ to be replaced with individual risk-based donor screening to allow gay and bisexual men to contribute to life-saving resources.
The current screening procedures group gay and bisexual men together as if they form a uniform risk to the blood stocks. A sensible, scientific and evidence-based donor screening policy would assess the risk of an individual’s sexual behaviour, without reference to their sexual orientation, King suggested.
The hypocrisy of the current system is all to evident, a heterosexual who has unprotected sexual intercourse with prostitutes regularly can still donate blood freely, yet gay or bisexual men in a long term committed relationship are unable to unless they abstain from sexual intercourse, unprotected or otherwise cannot.