Men who have sex with other men can’t donate blood – but their allies can.
That’s the point of a blood drive held in Regina Friday.
Queen City Pride is hosting its second annual ally clinic, despite a policy that bans many gay men from donating.
“This is a way for us, through the Queen City Pride festival, to give back to the Canadian Blood Services, while also helping to keep that conversation going about the deferral period and the discrimination behind that,” said Jesse Ireland, co-chair of Queen City Pride.
The current policy bans men who’ve had sex with other men within a year from donating.
“There’s a whole community of people who would be willing to donate and should qualify due to other aspects, but just because they would be an MSM (men who have sex with men) donor, they can’t,” Ireland said.
He wants to see the policy changed, adding the decision was based on an HIV-scare from decades ago.
“We are in a very different society now. We have more technology than ever to be able to test, and to be able to treat, and to be able to detect,” he explained.
“We have men who are in long-term relationships with other men, very committed monogamous relationships, who should be able to donate blood – which is very well needed – but they can’t just because of their sexuality.”
Despite a policy Ireland – and many people in the LGBT community – considers discriminatory, he’s expecting a large turnout Friday afternoon.
“We do actually have a lot of good support within Regina’s Canadian Blood Services clinic,” he said.
“There’s a lot of internal workers who do support the pride movement and support what we are fighting for so I think it’s very important that we look at this from a positive manner.”
The blood clinic runs from 12 to 4 p.m. Friday.
– With files from Lisa Schick