A safeguard that prevents blood donations from men who have ever had medically risky gay sex will stay in Northern Ireland, the province’s Heath Minister has said.
The rule exists because of medical advice showing that men who have sex with men have, as a group, a higher risk of sexually acquired blood-borne viruses like HIV.
Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots says the rights of people to receive safe blood are more important than the rights of people to donate.
The rule means that any man who has ever had sex with another man is banned for life from giving blood in Northern Ireland.
The same rule applies in the Republic of Ireland, most other European nations and in North America.
In England, Scotland and Wales the lifetime ban was replaced last year with a ban for men who had engaged in gay sex within the previous 12 months.
At the time, critics said the authorities were pandering to gay rights campaigners and ignoring medical evidence.
Mr Poots told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme that the Province will keep the lifetime ban.
He said he did not want the ban to apply to gay people only.
“I think that people who engage in high risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood,” the minister said.
“And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about those people being able to give blood.”