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Why the Canadian Blood Services blood ban is homophobic

Canadian Blood Services has a 3-month waiting period for men to donate blood if they’ve had sex with another man. It’s a policy based in homophobia. Here’s why.

Canadian Blood Services has a 3-month waiting period for men to donate blood if they’ve had sex with another man. It’s a policy based in homophobia. Here’s why.

For example, straight men can have sex with 90 women in 90 days and still give blood. Gay men can have sex with 1 man in 90 days, even one they’ve been married to for 30 years, and can’t give blood.

That’s just plain homophobia.

In the 1980s, CBS’s predecessor, the Canadian Red Cross, introduced selection criteria that included banning any men who have ever had sex with another man since 1977.

As a queer man who had had sex with a man at least once since 1977, I was banned for over 20 years from giving blood under this policy. Even though he and I had never had sex with anyone else. Straight people I knew who were my age had sex with multiple partners and could still donate blood.

That’s just plain homophobia.

In 2013, CBS changed the ban to any time in the previous 5 years. By this time, even though I was still a queer man, I had been married to a cis woman for 20 years, who I had been sexually faithful to during that entire time. I could give blood again. Yet plenty of gay men in 20-year relationships couldn’t.

That’s just plain homophobia.

In 2016, CBS reduced the deferral period to 1 year. Last year, they reduced it to 3 months. These further reductions open up donations for many gay men. However, there are plenty who still can’t donate, even while straight men with similar sexual histories can.

That’s just plain homophobia.

A woman can have sex with 90 men in 90 days and still be able to give blood. If a man has sex with just 1 man, he can’t give blood.

That’s just plain homophobia.

The blood ban CBS has in place, despite being more progressive than it was a decade ago, is still homophobic. It’s based entirely on sexual orientation, not on sexual practices.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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