Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"While today was a big success, there is still a long road ahead," says the National Gay Blood Drive Campaign. (Photo: Canadian Blood Services/flickr/cc)

FDA's New Stance on Blood Donations Still Treats Gay Men as Less Than Equal

"It is ridiculous that a married gay man in a monogamous relationship can't give blood, but a promiscuous straight man can."

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

While they praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for formalizing a policy that loosens the longstanding ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men, LGBTQ and public health advocates on Monday said the "discriminatory" plan still leaves much to be desired.

"Blood donation policies should be based on science, not stigma."
—Kelsey Louie, Gay Men's Health Crisis

The final guidance, based on a proposal put forth by the FDA in May, says gay and bisexual men are now eligible to give blood—provided they have abstained from sex with another man for at least a year. The previous ban had been in place for approximately 30 years.

"While today was a big success, there is still a long road ahead," the National Gay Blood Drive Campaign said in a statement. "We will continue to encourage the FDA to consider all the evidence until they arrive at a non-discriminatory policy and discrimination based on sexual orientation is eliminated from the blood deferral process altogether."

Several critics noted the hypocrisy of the new policy, as it holds people of different sexual identities to different standards.

"The FDA's 12-month deferral plan would still require gay and bisexual men to be celibate for a full year before they are allowed to donate blood, regardless of marital status and safe-sex practices," said Kelsey Louie, CEO of the New York-based HIV and AIDS service organization Gay Men's Health Crisis, on Monday. "Heterosexuals are given no such restrictions, even if their sexual behavior places them at high risk for HIV."

"In practice," Louie said, "the new policy is still a continuation of the lifetime ban and ignores the modern science of HIV-testing technology while perpetuating the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous. Blood donation policies should be based on science, not stigma."

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who serves as co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, a caucus of openly gay members of Congress, added to Reuters: "It is ridiculous and counter to the public health that a married gay man in a monogamous relationship can't give blood, but a promiscuous straight man who has had hundreds of opposite sex partners in the last year can."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·


Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


94% of Americans Oppose Big Pharma's Control of Global Covid-19 Vaccine Doses: Poll

Half of U.S. adults also consider it unacceptable that pharmaceutical corporations, which monopolized dose production, have profited substantially from vaccines developed using public funding.

Kenny Stancil, staff writer ·


'Counseling Not Criminalization' Bill Unveiled to Boot Police From US Schools

"For too long our education system has been intertwined with the criminal legal system and the results have been tragic."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·