Are you gay/bisexual, live in the UK, and want to donate blood? Now you can, though its through underground means.
LGBTQ rights advocates are setting up an “illegal blood bank” to collect blood donations from sexually active gay and bisexual men from Great Britain. This is a protest to spotlight the ongoing rules barring gay/bi men from donating blood until 3 months after their last sexual encounter.
This extended time is due to gay male sex having a high risk of transmitting blood-borne infections with this 3 month period allowing space to minimize false-negative test results. That said, advocates state that this time frame is unfair and results in a “huge pool of donors going to waste.”
As such, LGBTQ rights group Freedom to Donate, ad agency Elvis, and news source UNILAD have joined together to create this illegal blood bank. The bank will launch on November 23 in an unknown location in London. The organization will then collect blood samples from up to 30 men, who can register online. That blood will then be tested to use as proof of how many blood donations are usable by a hospital almost immediately.
“Our position is simple – anyone who can safely donate blood should be able to,” said Freedom to Donate founder Ethan Spibey.
“We’re aiming to raise awareness of the unfairness in blood donation on a huge scale and demonstrate the incredible potential of those thousands of gay and bi men who could potentially donate through an alternative model.”
“The more we researched, the more we came to realize how few people knew about this [blood donation issue],” says ad agency associate creative director James Hudson. “We decided that, just because the government won’t take this blood, doesn’t mean we can’t collect it to show that there’s millions of liters of life-saving blood going to waste.”
Keegan Hirst, an openly gay rugby player for Halifax, told Dailymail that he supports the Illegal Blood Bank.
“People should be empowered to celebrate who they are but this won’t happen if there are policies in place, which discriminate against certain communities,” he said. “I’ll be donating blood at the Illegal Blood Bank in the hope it leads to gay and bisexual men who are safe to donate, being able to do so.”
Despite the Illegal Blood Bank creators’ claims of discrimination and wastefulness of safe blood, Dr. Su Brailsford of the National Health Service Blood and Transport says that the health department is already trying to work with Men who have sex with other Men. But, they want to make sure that everyone remains safe in the process.
“We are already working collaboratively with LGBT+ groups on blood donation, through the FAIR steering group.” Said Dr. Brailsford. “We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to donate whilst continuing to ensure the safety of patients remains our number one priority.”