Donation Day One in Northern Ireland

The complete ban in Northern Ireland on bisexual and gay men and their partners donating blood ended yesterday and many more people are now allowed to give blood.

The change was announced in June as a consequence of the Stormont Assembly elections the previous month. It had been impossible to achieve previously but the elections brough a change in which party has which minister in the Northern Ireland coalition government.

The elections saw small shifts between the political groupings that might not have been enough to effect change under the D’Hondt system of cross-party ministerial portfolio allocation, which since 1998 has included the four main parties and sometimes smaller parties as well. However for the first time the UUP and SDLP chose to go into opposition, and a DUP-Sinn Fein government was formed.

Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O’Neill

Whilst the previous health minister had blocked any reform, Sinn Fein’s newly appointed minister Michelle O’Neill signalled a change of direction soon after being appointed.

It will bring Northern Ireland into line with Wales, Scotland and England, where there is a 12 month ban for bisexual and gay men, and other men who have sex with men, and a related ban for female partners of bi or behaviourally bisexual men which extends much longer.