Gay blood ban to be shifted in line with the UK…

Here’s one of the first political benefits of shifting serious ministerial offices, Michelle O’Neill announces that Northern Ireland will move towards the one year deferral system common across the UK… 

Ms O’Neill said on Thursday that she would lift the ban in favour of a ‘”one-year deferral system” as is the case in the rest of the UK.

This means that gay and bisexual men can give blood one year after their last sexual contact with another man.

Michelle O’Neill said: “The safety of donated blood depends on two things: donor selection and the testing of blood.

“Every blood donation is tested for HIV and a number of other organisms.

“Not even the most advanced tests are 100% reliable, so it is vitally important for every donor to comply with any deferral rules that apply to them.

The right thing is done by Sinn Fein, barely costing the DUP a penny in political capital. More of that sort of thing please?

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  • chrisjones2

    About time

    But isnt it strange how all those well founded medical objections have vanished in a puff of smoke ……..

    Next thing you know Education will admit that Dinosaurs did exist

  • Acrobat_747

    Why does a 12 month ban remain in place from the last date of sex with another man? Are you not outraged that there is still discrimination taking place there?

  • Korhomme

    Not before time. The previous arrangements owed much more to theology than they did to science.

  • Korhomme

    The 12 month ban relates to the detection of HIV; sometimes this is very delayed after infection.

  • Acrobat_747

    I understand that. Effectively this still bans sexually active gay men from donating blood. Of course, if you have a year without being sexually active it’s different but is this realistic.

    Gay men are still banned from donating blood as far as I can see.

  • Korhomme

    Correct. There are quite a few restrictions on blood donation, and this is (was) just one. The year without being sexually active seems to me to be reasonable,and evidence based, and not a discrimination against a particular community.

  • Teddybear

    The irony is that it’s SF, not the Unionists who seek to ape what the UK mainland does

  • mickfealty

    It’s broadly empirical though.

  • chrisjones2

    Thats a reasonable and rational control measure. The blanket ban was just discriminatory

  • chrisjones2

    Yes

  • Sharpie

    Not so much aping UK Mainland but any normal liberal democracy. it is here that is the anomaly.

  • Declan Doyle

    That was quick. No messing around. bualadh bos Sinn Fein.

  • Nevin

    The DUP will not oppose the change and Ireland may follow suit. source

  • Pete

    I thought the UK was actually unusual in not having such a ban?

  • Dan

    i don’t appreciate the Health Minister pandering to the gay lobby like she did today.
    If she wants to make such a decision, do so and explain her reasons to the Assembly….not sitting in the Rainbow project with a grinning activist.
    The Speaker should take her to task.

  • Nevin
  • Declan Doyle

    Pandering to the rights of men and women is an important part of progressive politics and a crucial part of embracing diversity and helping people fulfill their potential in society.

  • Declan Doyle

    As Cameron said tonight on sky, he is Prime Minister of great Britain and the interests of GB are his priority. The North as usual seems to be forgotten. SF will happily ape all aspects of progressive British law and Irish law if it means delivering for the people they represent.

  • NotNowJohnny

    SF may not have gained the position of first minister but when it comes to leadership it is showing the DUP the way. The fact that the DUP is not opposing this decision indicates that it is willing to be led. The DUP may be better at politics but when it comes to leadership in government it has surely been found wanting here.

  • Granni Trixie

    I was turned down for giving blood a few years ago because I have a condition about which little is known hence considered too risky. Sounded reasonable to me not discriminatory.

  • Declan Doyle

    Now that one part of Ireland has made the leap, hopefully the rest of the country will follow suit.

  • Teddybear

    Gay blood and gay cake. All I can think off now is gay black pudding with gay eggs with gay soda bread

  • Acrobat_747

    Except for the fact that straight people can have sex and don’t have to be celibate for a year. It’s one rule for the gays, and another rule for the straights.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Actually it’s a risk factor analysis due to other infections, particularly hepatitis.

  • Kevin Breslin

    That a man straight or gay could go a year without sex?

    Some people choose to be celibate, others have celibacy thrust upon them.

  • Jollyraj

    Ironic how Sinn Fein complacently assume they can sit back and soak up the votes of Catholics simply because they are Catholics – despite the fact that many of their policies so fly in the face of what many ordinary Catholics believe.

  • Jollyraj

    To be honest I don’t really see the problem with being cautious if donors are considered to be higher risk of carrying blood infections.

  • Granni Trixie

    She did explain that she looked at the evidence from POV of risk but came to different conclusions than her DUP predecessors. And aside from doing what to many is only fair ( ie not pandering as you put it) she is also saving money on inevitable legal fees should the ban have continued..

  • Granni Trixie

    Are you implying that many Catholics do not believe in gay people being treated like anybody else? If so what evidence have you for saying so?

  • murdockp

    but none of these ministers is even qualified to make medical decisions. this stuff should be left to medical professionals.

  • Ryan A

    The extension of a policy that has existed in the Mainland isn’t pandering. Ministers here regularly go off and do their own thing without explaining a thing to the Assembly and I doubt you’ve called it out before so why would you do it now?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The terms used give a misleading impression. Teddybear, It’s not a matter of any special perks or considerations for LGBT people, it’s a matter of not denying them the same considerations we others take for entirely for granted. and in this, their “victories” are victories for the general freedoms we all would wish to enjoy, and their “defeats” serve to erode all our freedoms.

    So…..just “soda bread”!

  • chrisjones2

    Why …she is a MInister doing her job …thats what she is paid to do. And what would taking it to the Assembly add other than a few more points on the blood pressure of flat earthers who dont believe that dinosaurs existed?

  • chrisjones2

    But those decisions come with diffent risks of disease transmission ..hence the difference

  • Dan

    You can doubt all you wish, but I for one think that if we are going to have this Assembly, the Ministers should make their announcements to it and answer questions….not pose for the cameras, sitting beside some grinning spokesman in the lobbying group’s office.

    That applies to al ministers making major policy decisions like this one. You can turn your homophobia alarms off.

  • Jag

    Just remember Nordies, if you lived in any part of the UK between 1980 and 1996, we don’t want any of your stinkin’ blood down here . Catholic, Protestant, gay, straight, Brexit, Remain, we don’t discriminate, it’s unlawful to offer it down here,

    Why?

    Because the Westminster government allowed beef to enter the food chain, up to 1996, which causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a particularly nasty brain disease.

    https://www.giveblood.ie/Become_a_Donor/Keeping_Blood_Safe/vCJD_FAQs/

  • Reader

    The DUP had dug themselves into a hole, and SF dug them out of it. I can’t fault SF for any part of their behaviour in this case.

  • Reader

    I don’t think it was much to do with theology either. Even the DUP don’t take medical or dietary advice from the bible. And the bible doesn’t say anything about blood transfusions anyway.
    It was just narrow minded stubborn conservatism, really.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I totally agree there are plenty of lesser religious countries with the same blood ban … “atheist” Czech Republic for one.

    There are also several religious groups approving of homosexuals, bisexuals taking such a “pro-life” position.

  • Reader

    Acrobat_747: Except for the fact that straight people can have sex and don’t have to be celibate for a year.
    Actually, there are rules about some heterosexual histories too. It is (or should be) all about quantifiable risks.

  • Croiteir

    It is strange that this is framed as an end to unfair discrimination against homosexual men. It was not. The fact that male to male is dangerous to health due to higher rates of disease is factual, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands ban those who have had male to male sex due to the dangers to the blood supply due to this.
    I believe I read that the rate of undiagnosed HIV infection is around 17%.
    There is no discrimination against homosexual men giving blood. There was/is a ban on men who have had sex with other men. That has no been shortened from life to a year after the event, (as if someone would keep a diary). The ban is not based on sexual identity but based on action that may introduce the risk of blood born viral infection.
    This is a regressive step. It will endanger the population.
    I believe that it is driven more by ideology than health and facts.

  • eiregain

    NI is regularly in a blood deficit,(we use more than we donate) because of this we regularly import blood reserves from England and wales where the ban isn’t in place. So whether your statements are based in any fact or not, “gay” blood has been saving lives of NI people for a while already.
    The outright ban served to only discriminate based on religious beliefs. For you to accuse the minister of being “driven more by ideology than health and facts” is laughable.

  • Joe Jitsu

    And if they didn’t take these possibly unpopular positions with traditional Catholics you’d be knocking them for taking a bigoted populist position.

  • So we have went from a really discriminatory law to quite a discriminatory law. Its still effectively a ban on gay men giving blood. It still stigmatises the gay community in a way in which other other high risk groups arent stigmatised.

    Id like to see our new equality minded health minister tackle the problems of gay sexual health. NI is experiencing big rises in HIV among the gay community due to poor uptake of sexual health services. Rates of infection keep increasing. Its a real health concern.

    In my opinion, these type of gestures are just a feel good distraction.

  • Jollyraj

    I’m not ‘implying’, I’m saying something directly. All Christians, and indeed believers of most religions, are somewhere along a spectrum of tolerance/intolerance towards anyone and anything which does not conform to whatever each feels is the ‘right’way to live. A fair slice of Catholics, and other Christians, do not believe that gay people should be treated equally. Not my personal opinion, mind. Which means a chunk of Catholics would actually oppose Sinn Fein here – and yet, Shinners when crowing about how they will essentially outbreed their opponents they are rather assuming that every Catholic will fall into line and vote for what they want.

  • Croiteir

    I see you use the term “gay” blood. It is nothing to do with having a sexual “orientation”. It has everything to do with increasing risk unnecessarily. If there is, and I accept that in the event of shortage it may necessitate it, the extra supplies should be obtained from a safer source such as the Republic of Ireland or the Netherlands.

    The outright ban does not discriminate based on religious beliefs. That is just a straw man argument. The courts rejected that silly assertion. In fact the judge said.
    “There is no basis for the conclusion that the Minister’s decision in this case was predetermined by his Christian beliefs and there is ample evidence to indicate that the Minister approached the decision-making by evaluating the competing factors before adopting on a precautionary basis the status quo.

    “We do not consider that the fair minded and informed observer could conclude that there was a real risk of apparent bias.”
    So you argument is the laughable one and an apology for your ad hominem baseless remark would be in order.

  • mac tire

    Good lad, Croiteir. Perhaps you should carry a card on your person stating that in the event of an accident or life threatening condition that you do not want a section of our fellow country men’s blood.
    And as your loved ones watch you slip away into eternity they will surely stand there proud, delighted that you were such a principled man.
    And perhaps when you reach the Pearly Gates and ask why such a decent, upstanding man such as yourself wasn’t saved, don’t be surprised by the answer: “I tried to but you refused it.”

  • Reader

    jag: Just remember Nordies, if you lived in any part of the UK between 1980 and 1996, we don’t want any of your stinkin’ blood down here .
    Not just Nordies, also returned emigrants. I assume someone has done the risk calculations for that one; though I expect there are a lot of unknown quantities.
    And maybe the rule would be revisited if there was ever a United Ireland. Unless they decide it’s still OK to give Nordie blood to Nordie recipients.
    I expect SF will be keen to see a lot of cross-border cooperation in health care; starting soon. Will southern patients getting operations in the north be assured of only receiving good southern blood?

  • jm

    I donated blood regularly until 2000 when I had my first child and was unlucky enough to need a blood transfusion because of a difficult birth. I then received a letter from the blood transfusion folk saying I could no longer give blood ever which was quite unsettling. I wonder what they thought might be in the blood I received?

  • Reader

    You don’t say where you received the blood, or which blood transfusion service rejected your blood afterwards.
    However, if you received blood from (e.g.) 5 donors, your own blood could be 6 times as ‘risky’ as it used to be. [I said “could be” because I don’t know if all of the risk factors would be passed on from one recipient to the next, or if some of them are only likely to be passed on from an original donor.].
    On its own, and with no special factors, that might be enough to swing the balance of risk against letting you be a donor. They might not have anything in particular in mind!

  • Jollyraj

    So…your point is, in essence, that whatever they choose to do I shouldn’t be critical of it. I take it you’re an SF voter then, so.

  • jm

    Maternity at the Royal – three pints! The letter came from the blood transfusion service, I think, the one with the stork logo. I think I did assume at the time it was the CJD theoretical risk

  • Joe Jitsu

    Well I think the obvious point is that whatever SF do you look for some way to criticize them regardless. If the Shinners said white you’d want black, and then if they said ok black it is, you’d then want white.

  • Jollyraj

    Not true. Here’s a thought: try telling me three things SF have done/are doing to heal the massive open sore that exists between our two communities, and I will give credit where it’s due. When you’re ready.

  • Joe Jitsu

    Well I would have thought Martin McGuinness’s laying a wreath at the Somme etc would have been obvious but I wouldn’t bother giving any more as doubtless you’ll just disregard them anyway.

  • Granni Trixie

    So much for love of ones neighbour …who may be gay! Also, now that more people are ‘out’ especially to their families there is more normalisation of the gender spectrum. And role models such as Mary McAleese who spoke up for people such as her son who is gay.
    Sounds like you have no actual evidence for your assertion hence your opinion is likely to be impressionistic and so my own is equally valid which is that Catholics are changing and certainly church teaching has lost its influential grip (mainly due to scandals etc).
    As for SF Minister – do not care if she is trying to be populist as the end result is she is righting a wrong.

  • Granni Trixie

    Whilst I completely agree with you re sexual health I am sure many gay people do welcome ‘gestures’ – I’m sure I heard Peter Tatchell and Rainbow Project rep welcome this one as moving things forward (ie it is not a mere distraction).
    .

  • Nimn

    Ms O’Neill said on Thursday that she would lift the ban in favour of a ‘”one-year deferral system” as is the case in the rest of the UK…”
    Oops – right decision and she recognises NI’s place in the UK all in one announcement…that really is progress. ; )

  • Nimn

    Interesting little dance being played out on this.

    New Minister o’Neill in office 8 days examines the evidence ( new evidence found under a stone?) on gay blood ban and concludes there is no basis for the ban. Arlene Foster is presented with the evidence and agrees the lifting of the ban is based on science.
    Then Arlene also tells us “It has never been about equality or morality, it was about the safety of people receiving the blood.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-36445170

    and we of course believe her – as the old song goes… “Why? because she said so, because she said so”. That and the DUP’s ability to defend this irrational decision had long since run out of road.

    Sinn Fein we owe you one – just not an Irish Language Act, the Justice Ministry or an end to post primary selection. Ok?

  • I suppose it is a step in the right direcrion. I just get a bit frustrated at times with our society’s attitude towards the gay community. It often feels like we are stuck between the the never never dup outlook on one side and being a pawn in sinn feins trojan horse strategy on the other.

    It would be nice to see some gay people in the higher echelons of our politics who are there because they have good policies and are highly capable (as in scotland), as opposed to being there to tick a diversity box. I hope that there will be at some point. That would be a sign of a more inclusive, diverse and tolerant society.

    But for now; i guess we can be happy at another small step.

  • Jollyraj

    Actually, no. I think that was the right thing to do and he was right to do it. What else?

  • Croiteir

    and perhaps you can actually debate the point instead of an ad hominen rant.

  • Granni Trixie

    It may not be at the ‘highest’ level but Andrew Muir was Mayor of ND and he is a Chair of Alliance – is this not normalisation – a gay person rising in th ranks and being judged as a capable politcian?

  • Oggins

    Whataboutery

  • mac tire

    I’ll make it easy for you then:

    Would you refuse their blood in the event that you needed it?

  • Gaygael

    Looking forward to seeing this new evidence in the public domain.

  • Gaygael

    We currently have 0 of 108 ‘out’ MLAs. We have a smattering of councillors.

    Admittedly this Assembly election marked a watershed in that we had not just a sole LGBT candidate but rather almost double figures. This included the first ever trans candidate on the island.

    I was one of the, and the Green Party accounted for almost half of them. Testament to the failure of the big five to effectively progress queer equality.

  • Gaygael

    Male to male what? Can you not say sex?
    Male to male is (sex) per se is not dangerous and this is almost willfull ignorance.
    It’s dangerous if either party has had unprotected sex with an infected party. Sexually transmitted infections and HIV do not materialise out of thin air. It requires sleeping with an infected partner.

    I am in a long term monogamous relationship. I know my HIV status (Do you?). I am absolutely zero risk to the blood supply.

    My brother can sleep with a different woman every week without a condom and still donate blood.

    Who is the bigger risk?

    Jesus crozier, you just need to give the gays a break. I’ll take you to the Boombox and you can see we are very normal people.

  • Gaygael

    Can you tell us what places you in a better position than the EXPERT INDEPENDEMT ADVISORY GROUP called SABTO to make a judgement on this decisions?

    Could it be prejudice?

  • Gaygael

    The medical professionals already advised in 2011. POots and Wells and then Hamilton choose to ignore them.

  • Gaygael

    So a few points on this. Firstly, I was going to write something but Mick was very quick of the mark.

    1) interesting update today that Arlene said she was happy and yesterday O’Neill said that the executive had endorsed it. There was a caveat that there was new evidence and I’m sure we will all look forward to seeing this new evidence. She professed that Hamilton received the evidence just before purdah and would have acted on it. Yet, during the election campaign, she defended the ban after the new evidence was received. I look forward to seeing how the timeline fits with the unveiled new evidence. Anybody help?
    2) O’Neill did not have to seek executive approval (one of the many court cases indicated that it was her pervue to make this call) but did. A genuine attempt to work together? (Couple it with Weir’s visit to Caolistie Feirste)
    3) she announced at the LGBT centre and was the first ever minister to visit that centre. It’s an early win for LGBT equality. It can’t be the only one of this mandate. If it is, SF have squandered it and LGBT people and their allies will be very dissapointed if there is no other significant progress.
    4) the evidence is comprehensive. There was an update late last year re no discernible increase in risk due to the relaxation in the rest of the U.K.
    5) our position was ridicoulous and untenable, as we were importing blood from England, Scotland and Wales, which included donated MSM blood!!! Essentially, Poots, Wells and Hamilton were happy to accept MSM blood from London, Cardiff or Edingburgh but not Belfast. None of them moved to block donations from Britain. I call that hypocriscy informed by prejudice.
    6) There was also the next step to the Supreme Court in terms of the challenge.
    7) it had to be nuanced as so not to offend Poots and Wells. Now gracing the backbenches in obscurity.

    The most important point: Stormont has never passed LGBT equality legislation nor changed policy in favour of LGBT equality. This is the first time. This is pretty momentous and a real sea change for the LGBT community and our friends, families and allies. There is lots more to come. It’s a symbolic and very welcome sign.
    Now we need to look at a sexual orientation strategy, IVF access, adoption, health inequalities, the expunging of historic criminal records, gender recognition review, extending good relations, an inclusive gender strategy, hate crime review and marriage. It’s going to be a busy mandate.

    Ps. Much as I may be an altruistic humanitarian, I am not giving up sex for a year to donate blood. Principly because my husband to be would leave me.

  • murdockp

    not my point. politicians don’t even need to get involved. it’s not the x factor announcing the winner.

  • eiregain

    Ok il drop the whole reason this ban was in place( the fact our government are religious fanatics) and instead ask you to show me examples of blood infection through treatment.

    If it is as dangerous as you say, where is your evidence of England and Wales infecting their people with tainted blood?

    The fact remains that for years this issue was brushed away by ministers argueing against scientific consensus .

    Show me your medical evidence that NI blood isn’t safe.

    If you have none then what are you on a bout youngella

  • chrisjones2

    Anybody help?

    FOI it …and wait 5 years for a response as its ‘advice to MInisters’

    Its called post hoc rationalisation

    “it had to be nuanced as so not to offend Poots and Wells.” Now you have hit the nail on the head and therefore the fact that the of course (who are linked to the Anti-Christ) did it is very convenient

  • chrisjones2

    Can anyone help me with a logical dilemma. Why is it that in the DUP the behaviours of some Members who vehemently deny evolution always itself seems proof that dinosaurs exist

  • chrisjones2

    Perhaps it was written in Irish and had to be translated before Hamilton had the chance to use it

  • chrisjones2

    well she can hardly attack the republic for being so far behind now, can she

  • chrisjones2

    The largest danger to the population is the blight of religion that leads to so many cases of depression, unwanted pregnancy and even suicide. Compared to that the risk of gay blood is minimal

  • chrisjones2

    …and you think the Irish didnt? Were Irish farmers not feeding animals on swill too?

  • John Collins

    Un’bear’able
    Maybe they were just what goes on in the ROI.

  • John Collins

    JR
    A fair chunk of us RCs are said to feel that travellers should not be treated equally either, but does that make discrimination correct. BTW I would not go on too much about this ‘Christian’ thing; remember Hitler was, at least initially, a Catholic and Stalin was an Orthodox (Christian) seminarian. and you see where the pair of them got us.

  • chrisjones2

    then why would we need them?

  • Croiteir

    So much for the fact based advocates

  • Gaygael

    I am looking forward to a response.

  • Croiteir

    No – you can put it aside as it is wrong. It was proven in a court as wrong but do not let that fact, as we like facts don’t we?, influence you. After all this is ideological purity we are talking here.
    The NHS puts the figure for risk 6.1 per million. and that is what we are talking about. The risk. If you knowingly increase the risk for no or little gain it is the wrong decision. There I no point waiting until someone life is destroyed before you can admit the mistake.
    You are also touchingly reliant on government actually admitting to infecting people. We know from history that they have covered this up before.
    This claim of yours about there being medical consensus is false. Their are medical guidelines for the GB, but there is no consensus. The republic for example disagrees with the UK position.
    There is nothing whatsever in you argument that disproves any of my points. You just regurgitate your failed points over and over.

  • Croiteir

    The fact that other international bodies agree with me. I did not pre judge anything. I accepted a different view by other medical experts. Why do you differ from them? It is coz your gay?

  • Croiteir

    I can say or type sex. Not a problem, however in the context I though that it would be an understandable abbreviation. Obviously I overestimated. apologies for that.
    As for male to male sex not being more dangerous than male to female sex I suppose it all depends on what activity is being partaken by the pairing. However that fact the appropriate people who advise on these matters universally believe that there is increased risk of infection for those who partake in male to male sex I am inclined to accept that.
    I am clear from HIV as per a month ago as I gave blood and no one has complained – unless of course there is a letter in the post. I don’t go for a regular check up as I don’t believe that I have exposed myself to risk.
    I am not aware of your brother or his proclivities with whoever – I accept that the relevant body accepts you as a bigger risk.
    I have no intention of going to the boombox or any other nocturnal outing involving too many people and too loud music.

  • Croiteir

    To what – an ill informed rant that has nothing to do with what we are talking about but would only indulge a prejudiced outburst

  • Croiteir

    Yep – plenty of time taken to weigh up all the argument and weigh up the consequences, not one for the slavish adherence to the groupthink.

  • Gaygael

    To what I said below

  • Granni Trixie

    Would you not agree also that the culture in parties is relevant when assessing if gay people are being treated equally? Being chosen To stand as a rep and then to be chosen are but two measures by which to judge – yet in a party, power resides in other positions also (chairs,employees etc). I say this because equality for women has been a long time coming which is why I noticed this factor. L