Following the recent change to UK laws around men who have sex with men (MSM) being able to donate blood, Health Minister David Ashford MHK has said that the ‘long overdue’ change should be brought to the island this year.
The UK move saw the rules altered in all four member nations from an outright donation ban on all MSM who have been sexually active in the last three months to a more gender neutral ban on anyone who has had anal sex with new or multiple partners in the last three months, opening the door for gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships to be able to donate.
Currently, the Isle of Man government’s blood donation page states that men should never donate blood if they have had anal or oral sex with another man and women should wait 12 months if they have had sex with an MSM. The island’s rules put it behind countries like the USA, Canada and Australia who have three month abstinence laws and others including Brazil, Russia and Hungary who have no specific deferral period for MSM at all.
The Health Minister’s comments came after Daphne Caine MHK raised the question in Tuesday’s House of Keys sitting, asking if there were plans to move current guidance in line with the UK’s new laws. Mr Ashford stated that the policy would be part of a review of the island’s blood safety provisions over the next few months by his department, he also went on to say that he personally hoped that the new policy would be brought in this year.
It’s not the first time the issue has been brought to the Minister, with Dr Alex Allinson MHK asking a similar question in 2019 where he was also told the legislation would be reviewed.
The question came as the island celebrated Pride month with the first full Pride festival here taking place on June 12th. The charity behind the event, Isle of Pride, said: ‘we are delighted that Daphne Caine is shining a light on this important area of equality. It is imperative that any restrictions to giving blood are based on risk profile, not gender or sexuality.’ Clare Barber MHK, who is a member of the Department of Health and Social Care as well as a co-ordinator of the charity, added: ‘the Minister and members in DHSC are all in support of this change and want to see this implemented as soon as possible.’