World Blood Day, Oh the Irony.


Happy World Blood Donor Day! (You Still Can’t Donate).

While the husbands of men wounded in Sunday’s Orlando nightclub shooting are crying and praying, they can’t easily offer their spouses the one thing so many others can: their blood.

Defying federal policy, Patty Sheehan — Orlando’s lesbian city commissioner — announced after the shooting that she was recommending the city temporarily lift the Food and Drug Administration-mandated ban on blood donated from sexually-active gay and bisexual men. In response, Orlando hospitals appear to be welcoming donations from all queer men and transgender women — also included in the FDA ban — but it’s still murky whether the federal government will crack down on Sheehan’s directive and blood will actually get to the injured.

The Orlando massacre, in a grim coincidence, came two days before the World Health Organization’s World Blood Donor Day, observed today. While the mass shooting, the nation’s worst, briefly brought the FDA’s discriminatory policy to the world’s attention, it was quickly forgotten in the barrage of news updates about the Orlando killer and his victims.


The current prohibition has been in place since December, when the FDA amended its ban, so now instead of barring any male donors who had sex with men since 1977, the new rules turn away those who haven’t had gay sex in 12 months. For many, that’s still an outright ban on any gay or bisexual man, no matter the semantics.


GMHC and FCB Health joined together to launch a campaign called the Blood Equality campaign, which will plaster cities with posters that read, “My blood is type O, not type homo” and “My blood is type A, not type gay.”

Democratic legislators like Mike Quigley of Illinois, Barbara Lee of California, and out Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin also want the FDA to reconsider the ban, which the agency considers imperative to keeping the nation’s blood supply free of HIV. The three politicians disagree with the FDA’s assertion and jointly released the following statement late on Monday:

“The resiliency of the American people is always magnified after a tragedy, and we are witnessing that compassion as Floridians rally around the people of Orlando, and the local LGBT community, by lining up to donate much needed blood after Sunday’s horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub. However, we find it unacceptable that gay and bisexual men are banned from donating desperately needed blood in response to this tragedy. Blood donations are needed now more than ever, yet gay and bisexual men remain unable to donate blood due to an outdated and discriminatory FDA rule. For years, we have worked through both authorizing and appropriations committees to overturn the FDA’s donor referral policy for men who have sex with men. We’ve made progress; this past year, the FDA reversed a lifetime ban to a 12-month deferral policy. But this revision does not go far enough in ending an outdated policy that is medically and scientifically unwarranted and that perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes. Tragedies like the one we witnessed in the early morning hours on Sunday show how crucial it is for FDA to develop better blood donor policies that are based on science and on individual risk factors; that don’t unfairly single out one group of individuals; and that allow all healthy Americans to donate. Given the enormous response by the citizens of Orlando, including members of the LGBT community, to donate blood to help heal their community, the FDA should lift this prejudicial ban once and for all.”

Nations like Spain have ended blanket deferrals for gay and bisexual men, instead considering the sexual behavior of individuals when deciding who qualifies as a donor.

Full Story Here.


  1. says

    The US’s rules are so screwed up that a gay teen’s organs were rejected because of unfounded bigotry and homophobia concern that his organs might have HIV. That, despite the fact that he was a virgin.

    After suicide, gay teen’s eye donation rejected

    Alexander “AJ” Betts Jr. attempted suicide in July 2013, the Des Moines Register reported at the time. He died shortly thereafter. Betts’s mother said he had been outed as gay about a year and half before his death. His friends told KCCI that schoolmates constantly made fun of him, ridiculing him for being gay, for being half African American, and for his cleft lip.


    A Food and Drug Administration’s guidance for donor eligibility says men who have had sex with men (???) in the past five years “should” be ruled as “ineligible” for donating certain tissues, labeling their behavior a “risk factor.”

    “My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eyes couldn’t be donated just because he was gay,” Moore said, according to KCCI.


    Cohen [bioethics law professor at the Harvard Law School] notes some contradictions in the FDA blood ban: Men who have sex with HIV-positive women or sex workers are banned for only a year.

    The ban on LGBTQIA blood donors in Canada was equally appalling, especially considering that the Red Cross intentionally chose not to test for HIV in the 1980s. Their incompetence spread the disease and compromised the whole system, later replaced by Canadian Blood Services. Of note, unlike the US, Canada does not offer money for blood donations.

  2. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Blood donors don’t typically get paid in the US, either.

    I never have, and I’ve given over 2 gallons. I’m about to donate again for the first time in over a year, because I had to wait 12 months after being exposed to someone’s blood when I was acting as a first responder.

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