Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 April 2018) . . Page.. 1304 ..
blanket restriction on them donating blood, except if they do not engage in any sexual activity at all.
I want to finish by saying that the current policy mandated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration requires gay men to abstain from sex for a full year if they want to donate blood. I want to say today that I think that is a form of discrimination. The TGA’s position in relation to treating men who have sex with men as donors differently is not consistent with the approach of other countries and the evidence and medical advances, as well as the expert panel recommendations from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
It is time for change. Just as we have challenged discrimination in our laws through enacting marriage equality, we should be continuing to question why it is that discrimination against the LGBTIQ community in our health system continues, especially when it cannot be justified.
Current restrictions on blood donations are discriminatory, outdated and stigmatising for gay men, who, like everyone else, want to do the right thing by donating blood. I hope that the Therapeutic Goods Administration accepts the recommendation of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s important review into this issue. This would enable a numerically significant cohort of potential donors to help save more lives, whilst maintaining the integrity and safety of the blood supply.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (5.09): I move:
Omit all words after (4), substitute:
“(4) refers the matter to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services for inquiry and report.”.
Mr Steel’s motion is not entirely without merit. I thank him for bringing it forward today. With science and medical technology ever improving and developing, it is possible that past concerns about, in this case, the risk of blood contamination ending up in the veins of innocent patients may be somewhat allayed. I can also appreciate the points that Mr Steel makes about discrimination, the need for more blood donors and the need for more blood.
Let me quickly make the point that it is not only gay and bisexual men who are excluded from eligibility to donate blood; people under the age of 18 and over 70 cannot give blood. So is that ageism? People who weigh under 50 kilograms cannot give blood. People who have had a tattoo in the past four months cannot give blood. Pregnant and post-natal women cannot give blood, nor can people who have a serious heart condition, people with low iron counts or people who have lived in the UK for a period of six months or more between 1 January 1980 and 31 December 1996. I understand that my colleague Mr Hanson falls into that category.
If you have ever—that is ever—injected drugs recreationally, you cannot give blood. One lapse at a party in your undergraduate years makes you ineligible forever to be a blood donor. If you travel overseas in the four months before you intend to give blood, take a rain check. There are many countries that, if you visit, will make you ineligible