‘Gay rights’ activist Peter Tatchell has called for an end to the longstanding safeguard which prevents blood donations from men who have engaged in sexual activity with other men.
Under current rules the National Blood Service (NBS) will not accept donations from men who have had anal intercourse with other men because such sexual behaviour is medically dangerous.
Speaking in advance of World Aids Day, Mr Tatchell claimed the ban was “based on the stereotyped, irrational, bigoted and unscientific presumption that the blood of every man who has had oral or anal sex with another man – even just once 40 years ago with a condom – is unsafe.”
He went on to call for the donation rules to be changed.
However, the NBS has recently warned that overturning the current ban on donations would “result in a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply”.
In June the NBS released a statement showing that men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by HIV.
These men account for 63 per cent of the HIV diagnoses where the infection was likely to have been acquired in the UK.
This is not the first time that gay rights groups have lobbied for the safeguard to be removed.
Earlier this year gay rights campaigners used a Pride London event to press the NBS to lift the ban after branding it “prejudiced”.
Responding to the accusations, the NBS said: “The reason for this exclusion rests on specific sexual behaviour rather than the sexuality of the person wishing to donate.
“There is, therefore, no exclusion of gay men who have never had sex with a man, nor of women who have sex with women.”
The Government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is currently conducting a review on the ban.
The Committee is due to make its final recommendations to the Government next year.
The UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, supports the current rules.