Today Forum Żgħażagh Laburisti (FŻL) is launching its campaign ‘We All Have the Same Blood’ in order to rally public support in favour of the removal of the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men currently enforced by the Blood Donation Unit within the National Health Service.
FŻL believes that donating one’s blood is an act of generosity and of civic responsibility that should not be conditioned by sexual orientation.
The lifetime ban has also been described as one that “infringes the principles of proportionality” by the European Court of Justice in a judgment where a French doctor refused a blood donation from Geoffrey Leger in 2009 on grounds that he had had sex with another man. This judgment prompted French policymakers to lift the lifetime ban and replace it with a 12-month deferral.
FŻL therefore firmly believes that this lifetime ban for blood donation imposed on homosexual men is discriminatory on grounds of sexual orientation, despite protection from such discrimination being a fundamental right enshrined in the Maltese Constitution.
Recently, the removal of an indefinite ban of homosexual blood donation was also reaffirmed by the American Food and Drug Administration, which published new guidelines replacing the lifetime ban with a 12-month ban for men who have sex with other men during the previous 12 months before the envisaged donation. Similar blood donation deferrals have been adopted also by Australia, Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
FŻL therefore is proposing that:
- Blood donation should be deferred for 12 months from the most recent contact a man who has had sex with another man during the past 12 months.
- Blood donation should be deferred for 12 months from the most recent contact a female who has had sex during the past 12 months with a man who has had sex with another man in the past 12 months.
- It should be made explicitly clear that there exists no ban or deference for women who have sex with other women.