Northern Ireland Blood ban

BCN 122 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 122, December 2013

Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health, confirmed in November that the bar on bisexual and gay men in Northern Ireland donating blood might be lifted as it has been in Britain.

In a written answer, she stated: “In Northern Ireland, all men who have had sex with another man (MSM), regardless of their sexual orientation, are currently permanently deferred from donating blood.
“The High Court of Justice of Northern Ireland has recently given judgment in a judicial review that the Secretary of State rather than the Northern Ireland Health Minister is responsible for determining the blood donor deferral period for MSM.  The Secretary of State is currently considering the implications of this judgment.”

The lifting of the blood donation ban had been treated as a devolved matter, and the Northern Ireland Assembly had rejected the proposal.

After reforms last year that ended the total donation ban, there are limits on bi and gay men and their partners donating blood in Great Britain that mean most donors must not have had sex in the last 12 months.