Add your name: End the anti-scientific, homophobic Blood Ban

Canadian men who have sex with men (MSM) are effectively banned from giving blood in Canada. Despite years of promises from the Liberal government, sexually active gay, bisexual and other male identifying persons, as well as trans women still have to wait 3 months after having sex with other men before giving blood.

The Blood Ban is not scientific: it is discrimination.

There is no scientific evidence to support the Blood Ban. Donated blood is already tested for HIV, and all demographics are susceptible to the virus [1]. There is no explanation for this ban beyond unfounded fear, and it serves as an unwelcome reminder of a time of homophobic AIDS hysteria. For instance, a gay man in a monogamous relationship is banned from giving blood, while a heterosexual man with multiple partners is not.

Agencies such as Canadian Blood Services are allowing homophobia to stand in the way of public health. Not only is the Blood Ban founded on a faulty homophobic principle, it has led to a critical shortage in the Canadian blood supply [2]. This is particularly detrimental during COVID-19, as the pandemic has led to further blood donation shortages [3].

Until the Blood Ban is eliminated, Canada is not an equal place for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, nor is the Canadian healthcare system equitable. Allowing fear and hate to supersede science sends a strong message that Canada is not the inclusive place that it claims to be.

The Liberal government has promised time and time again to remove the discriminatory Blood Ban. Justin Trudeau promised he would do so in the 2015 election, yet almost 5 years later, the Blood Ban continues to prevent MSM and other marginalized groups from participating equally in the blood donation system.

Canada needs a strong leader who will not back down. During the 2019 election, I ran in Toronto Centre, the largest 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Canada. I called on the government to eliminate the Blood Ban in interviews with CBC, in debates with Minister Bill Morneau and on social media. As Green Party leader, I will continue to pressure HEMA Quebec, Health Canada and Canadian Blood Services to end the discriminatory Blood Ban.

We can achieve our goal, if we come together and apply pressure. We can’t allow the crucial promise to end the Blood Ban to be forgotten in the COVID-19 chaos, especially as the pandemic may increase the need for blood donations.

Donated blood saves lives. MSM have been waiting 34 years for equality. Will you join me in demanding the removal of the Blood Ban?

To HEMA Quec, Health Canada, and Canadian Blood Services:

We cannot allow fear and hate to stand in the way of public health. Canada deserves evidence-based policy. A potential second wave of COVID19 infections will require a greater need for blood donations and we can no longer afford to wait. We call on you and the government to immediately remove the 3-month abstinence period imposed on gay and bisexual men and trans women in order to end the anti-scientific, homophobic Blood Ban.

Will you add your name?