Ontario gay man argues for right to donate blood
Fiona Campbell is representing Egale Canada Inc., which has intervened in a lawsuit brought by a gay man, Kyle Freeman, against Canadian Blood Services. Canadian Blood Services uses a questionnaire to screen out unsuitable donors, including men who have had sex with another man, even once, since 1977. Freeman alleges that the question violates his Charter right to equality.
Canadian Blood Services says the question is designed to screen out donors who have HIV, which can exist in a newly infected person’s blood for three months before a test picks it up.
Fiona explains to the Ottawa Citizen that the “outdated” question fails to take into account gay and bisexual men’s already disadvantaged position:
It is “reflecting and reinforcing the stereotype that all gay men are diseased, that all gay men are promiscuous, that HIV and AIDS are a gay disease and promoting prejudice.”
Egale takes the position that Canadian Blood Services’ lifetime ban is discriminatory and both over- and under-inclusive. In the interest of effectively screening for HIV and other blood borne infections, the policy should target risk behaviours rather than discriminate based on affiliation with an identity group.