Two student unions in the North East of England have banned the National Blood Service (NBS) from advertising in their buildings because it will not take blood from active homosexuals.
Newcastle and Sunderland student unions say the NBS ‘discriminates’ against gay men and so will not be allowed a “visible presence” on the sites.
Critics say the move places more value on ‘gay rights’ than the need for life-saving blood donations.
The NBS defends its stance, explaining that it does not take blood from men who have had sex with men because it would increase the risk of sexually transmitted disease entering the blood supply.
It says that lifting the ban could “result in a fivefold increase in the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the blood supply”.
The NBS adds: “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 policy would only be changed on the basis of clear evidence that patients would not be put at jeopardy. In addition, scientific advances in virus testing and inactivation are monitored.”
A recent attempt by a homosexual activist to lift the ban in Scotland was rejected by the blood service there, which said sexually active gay men are at an increased risk of acquiring blood-borne sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and syphilis.
Greg Du Bois, president of Sunderland’s student union said the university had a “strong” Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) society, and added that the NBS “don’t allow gay men to give blood and that has been determined as not a satisfactory reason”.
But the move was condemned by Carol Olley, mother of 21-year-old heart transplant patient Kaylee Davidson, whose surgery relied on blood transfusions.
Mrs Olley, from Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, said: “This rule could cost lives. It would be a tragedy if this boycott means that someone doesn’t donate blood.”
She added: “The blood service needs more people to donate blood. It wouldn’t stop an entire group from donating without good reason.”