New Gay Blood Ban Case Heads To Court
First, a quick announcement: Since the launch of this site in 2006, you’ve no doubt noticed a gradual change in my illustration style. While I’ve been pleased with the artistic direction that my illustrations have taken over the past several years, I feel that they have lost a certain charm of the originals. That is why, starting today, I am returning to—and keeping—my original illustration style. Additionally, to keep the site’s look consistent, I will be removing and re-drawing all of my illustrations from the last few years. This is a pretty exciting project, so I hope you’re as pleased as I am!
Update, April 2: For anyone who doesn’t like to check calendars on a regular basis: Yes, this announcement—and the accompanying terrible illustration—was an April Fools joke. The rest of the post is real though, so good luck to Mr. Lomaga with his blood ban case!
If you’re a gay man in Canada and have had sex even once since 1977, you are permanently banned from donating blood in the country. If you’re surprised by this, you likely haven’t tried donating blood for a very, very long time. This policy has been on the books for about thirty years now, despite having organisations like the Red Cross come out against it.
Nonetheless, Canadian Blood Services has rested stubbornly with the policy. The organisation even launched a successful court case against Kyle Freeman, a gay man, for having donated blood against the organisation’s policy two years ago. While that case ultimately ruled in favour of CBS because they were not a government organisation and therefore not subject to Canada’s charter of rights, the policy is about to be tested again.
Adrian Lomaga, a Montréal student, is challenging the gay blood ban policy of Héma-Québec (which is more likely to be ruled as a government organisation) on April 4. In response, Héma-Québec is suing Health Canada (clearly a government organisation), saying that if they lose this case, it’s the fault of their parent organisation for forcing the policy on them.
I’ve always been confused by the gay blood ban. Defining the exclusion group as haphazardly as “gay men” is likely considerably more harmful to the blood supply than other proposed alternatives. For one, it perpetuates the myth that all gay men have tainted blood. On top of that, it fails to catch heterosexuals who may engage in far riskier sexual practices than a monogamous gay man. A wiser system would shift the focus on the number of partners a donor has, as well as whether or not the donor engages in risky sexual practices—such as not using condoms. HIV and other blood-borne infectants don’t care about the gender of their host, after all.
So, good luck to Adrian Lomaga! May you soon have large needles inserted into your veins, and your blood removed in large quantities!