Sunday, 11 September 2011

MaltaToday: Gay blood donations ban against EU law – Commissioner John Dalli

European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli says that a blanket ban

European Commissioner John Dalli says that blanket ban on gay blood donations goes against EU law.

Answering to questions from Members of the European Parliament, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli said that – contrary to how some member states interpret a 2004 European Directive – EU law does not warrant a blanket ban on blood donations from gay or bisexual men.

Dalli said the EU law warranted the deferral of those “at high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases” due to their “sexual behaviour”, pointing out that sexual ‘behaviour’ is different to sexual ‘orientation’.

Dalli’s comments on the issue follows news that the UK government is expected to announce that it is lifting the lifetime ban on blood donation for men who had sex with men (MSM). According to news reports, the men would have to prove that they had abstained from sex for at least a year before donating.

The EC also highlighted the fact that Member States should not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when implementing EU law. It made it clear that a blanket ban on all gay and bisexual men would be in breach of EU law.

In a press release, MEP Michael Cashman, Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said the Commission’s answer “makes a lot of sense."

"Commissioner John Dalli reminds Member States that it is individuals who are at risk – not groups. Being gay or bisexual cannot automatically pose a threat to public health; but risky sexual behaviour in men or women, gay or straight, is a real risk. I hope the British government’s announcement later today will prefer scientific evidence to prejudice,” Cashman said.

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