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Australia's Gay Blood Ban Challenged


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Australia's Gay Blood Ban Challenged

by Peter Hacker 365Gay.com Sydney, Australia Bureau

Posted: August 2, 2005 2:00 pm ET

(Hobart, Tasmania) The Australian Red Cross ban on gay's donating blood is being challenged by man in northern Tasmania. Michael Cain on Tuesday filed complaints with the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Cain said that when he attempted to donate blood last October he was told that the Red Cross does not accept donations from men who have had male-to-male sex in the previous 12 months.

Cain, 22, also charges in his complaint that a Red Cross nurse used the derogatory term "you people" – referring to gay men.

His complaint charges that the Red Cross ban is both discriminatory and unnecessary.

"I know that I have safe sex ... It almost felt like I was being accused of being a dirty person," Cain told reporters.

The ban was imposed in Australia and most other countries at the height of the AIDS crisis 20 years ago. Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome called the Red Cross donor screening process "outdated."

"Now we know that AIDS is not simply a gay disease, it's a disease anyone can catch," Croome said.

"It's really time for the Red Cross to change its policy and focus on whether donors have safe or unsafe sex rather than the gender of the person they have sex with."

Gay and bisexual men are allowed to donate blood in Switzerland and Spain. Last month Sweden's Prime Minister became the first world leader to publicly call for an end to the ban on gays from donating blood. (story)

Bans on gay blood donors in the United States and Canada have also been called outdated.

The US Food and Drug Administration says that "there is scientific justification for screening out all potential donors who are men who have had sex, even once, with another man".

A number of universities, mainly in the Northeast, have banned the American Red Cross from holding blood donor clinics on campuses because of the ban.

©365Gay.com 2005


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