On Sunday Politics Northern Ireland today, Edwin Poots calls all MSM sexual activity ‘risky’ he then went on to say that he would want to see all ‘risky behaviour’ by his definition treated the same way, going on to name two examples. Those examples were people who slept with prostitutes and those who had sex with people from sub-Saharan Africa.
Now if Mr Poots wants consistency they let him bring it about.
For years the two groups he honed in on have been subject to a deferral period before returning to donating blood.
Indeed if you read the National Blood Transfusion service website you will see this:
You should not give blood for 12 months after sex with:
A man who has had sex with another man (if you’re a female).
Anyone who has ever injected themselves with drugs.
Anyone with haemophilia or a related blood clotting disorder who has received clotting factor concentrates.
Anyone of any race who has been sexually active in parts of the world where AIDS/HIV is very common. This includes countries in Africa.
You see these groups have long been subject to a deferral period so that blood borne diseases can incubate and be detected at a future date. So why does it not apply to men who have had sex with other men (MSM)? After all a woman who has sex with a MSM can give blood again after 12 months. This was one anomaly for wives of bisexual men and remains so under Northern Ireland’s lifetime ban.
But either Poots doesn’t know about this or he is going to put an even bigger strain on Northern Ireland blood stocks by taking these other groups up to a life time ban.
He is also in refusing to lift the lifetime ban putting all men who haveEVER had sex with another man even years ago in the same bracket as people who:
- have worked as a prostitute
- have injected themselves with drugs
- have ever had syphilis, HTLV (Human T – lymphotropic virus), HIV or hepatitis C
That is quite a statement he is making especially to those men who have not had sex with other men in a long time. As Health Committee chair Sue Ramsey says:
“We are crying out for blood donation… we have had to bring in blood from England, Scotland and Wales because we need it.
“There are people here willing to give blood and like anybody who has given blood, it will be screened, so we shouldn’t be going down this line of his own prejudice coming into play.”
What is more one of the correspondences that Poots quoted as helping him make up his mind was from the Irish Health Minister saying that their were no plans there to lift their lifetime ban. This despite his Westminster, Cardiff and Edinburgh counterparts all taking an alternate view which Sinn Féin’s Ramsey is advocating.
It is a moment that Sinn Féin take the UK line while the DUP seem to have lined up the Republic of Ireland, but then we are used to DUP Minister’s following the rest of the UK when it suits them, but on LGBT issues that tends to not be an area that they like being the same as the United Kingdom.
On the same day the UUP take the whip away from Lord Maginnis for is comments about gay sex, we end up having the DUP by their actions and words in Government tarred with the same brush.