Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 April 2018) . . Page.. 1312 ..

HIV virus even before antibodies are produced by the body. Numerous medical advances, including the use of PrEP, as well as public awareness campaigns, have significantly increased the number of people getting tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Given these technological advances, the current requirements are unnecessarily discriminatory. They perpetuate the stigma that gay and bisexual men are inherently irresponsible and engage in risky behaviour. The discrimination is blatant and unnecessary. For example, compare a gay man who is in a long-term, monogamous relationship and has had a recent sexual health check with a straight man or woman who has frequent, unprotected sex with multiple partners and does not get frequent sexual health check-ups. That gay man would be unable to donate blood whilst the straight man or woman would.

A straight person is trusted to make their own decisions about their own sexual safety and that of others. They are trusted to truthfully disclose their likely potential exposure to HIV/AIDS. This lack of trust for gay men stems from a continued ingrained homophobia within our society. Our donation laws should be based on an individual risk assessment and testing, not out-of-date stereotypes or the gender of your partner.

A review of Australian blood donor deferrals relating to sexual activity conducted by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service recommended reducing this 12-month deferral period from 12 months to six. This recommendation, however, was rejected by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. It is disappointing that the TGA rejected the findings made by the expert panel.

Moving away from the current policy would be in line with developments in other jurisdictions. For example, in the United Kingdom, the deferral period was recently reduced from 12 months to three months to more adequately reflect the scientific advances in testing. France also has changed its policy to reflect a scientifically sound approach. Donated blood plasma can be kept and stored for 12 months, where it can be used after the detection period has passed. France has thus removed deferral periods for plasma only donations for gay and bisexual men who have been in a monogamous relationship for the previous four months. These approaches are both great steps forward in acknowledging that health policy should evolve as technology develops, and that community expectations change. Frankly they put our policies to shame.

I am a proud supporter of the LGBTIQ community. I stand in support of Mr Steel today and thank him for putting forward this motion. The current blood donation policy is unnecessarily discriminatory against gay men. This blanket ban policy does not reflect technological changes. I urge the ACT government to call on the Therapeutic Goods Association and the federal Minister for Health to re-evaluate the current system. Firstly, they must adopt the recommendations of the 2012 review by the Australian Red Cross. Secondly, they must consider a further reduction in the deferral period to three months in line with the United Kingdom and to remove the deferral period for plasma donations for gay men in monogamous relationships.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video