What a thrill to know that Canada still manages to find new, creative ways to malign minorities. At least we keep it interesting.
Canadian Blood Services might change their policy on allowing gay men to donate. Instead of the lifetime ban they have on any man who has ever had sex with another man, gay men can donate so long as they haven’t had sex in the past five years.
This isn’t the first time Canadian Blood Services has made a slight move toward altering the lifetime ban on gay blood. In 2011, they reviewed the 26-year-old ban after the UK changed a similar policy. At the time, they were considering accepting blood from gay men who hadn’t had sex in the past 12 months.
Two steps forward, one step back. At least we’re moving, right?
While Canadian Blood Services may be obsessively interested in the sex lives of gay men who want to donate, they’re surprisingly uninterested in what hetero-donors have been up to. CBS doesn’t ask straight men and women if they’ve ever had unprotected sex.
Granted, CBS’s questions do have a lot to do with risky sexual behaviour, for any sexual preference. But the restrictions put on gay men are more about the misconceptions people still have about how rampant HIV/AIDS is in the gay community than the science behind it. If the five-year ban is in place to give the infection enough time to show itself, that’s a long time—HIV can be tested anywhere from two to eight weeks after initial infection. In other cases, it can take three months.
Five years is pretty arbitrary, and seems to be more about discouraging gay men from donating than about opening it up to them. Besides—isn’t it customary that they test all blood for any diseases? What makes gay blood any different?
CBS’s move to change this rule is little more than a weak ploy to placate frustrated men who are being maligned in increasingly creative ways. Blood, a literal life-source, is always in need. Somehow, CBS acts like they have enough just because the guy who wants to donate also snuggles with other guys.
When the ban was first instated in the 80s, the HIV/AIDS panic was frantic, so it was no wonder they wanted to be safe rather than sorry. The ban covered men who had sex with other men going back to 1977. Decades later, we’ve learned a lot more about the disease, how it’s transmitted, and how to protect ourselves from it. There’s no reason that CBS should be stuck in 1985.
It could be a part of a new ad campaign: “It’s In You To Give, Unless You’re Gay, In Which Case, Uh, You Just Keep It, No, We’re Good, Thanks.”