Due to recent events, the FDA is pressured to lift the ban on blood donations coming from gay and bisexual men, imposed in the 1980’s.
The ban was ruled to try and reduce the events of transmission of HIV. Last December, the ruling was updated so that men had to wait 12 months after having a sexual encounter with another man.
Gay men are forbidden of donating blood
Lawmakers argue that there is no reason to support this type of discrimination based on sexual orientation, and they addressed the fact that it is the person’s behavior rather than their sexual identity what elevates their risk of contracting HIV. Each blood donation undergoes at least ten tests to screen for potential infectious diseases.
HIV is only able to be assuredly spotted on a blood sample at least six months after infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assure that the risk of contracting HIV through a blood transfusion in the U.S. is of one in one-and-a-half million.
All FDA guidelines remain in effect for blood donation. There are false reports circulating that FDA rules were being lifted. Not true.
— OneBlood (@my1blood) June 12, 2016
The uproar took force when LGBT members volunteered to donate blood to help the survivors of Sunday’s Orlando nightclub massacre. Most of them were rejected due to their recent sexual encounters.
Democrat Mike Quigley, from Illinois, assures that it is a contradiction that gay men in monogamous and healthy relationships are not entitled to donate blood while promiscuous straight men are accepted.
Democrat Jared Polis, from Colorado, became the first openly gay man to win a seat in Congress as a freshman. He commented that the Orlando blood bank made a call for many types of blood donors. Spouses, family, and friends of the victims attended the call, but the vast majority were turned away.
The FDA acknowledged the issue, but responded that there is “an adequate supply of blood to meet the need.” They stressed that there is not enough scientific evidence to change the current policy, but that they are reportedly looking forward to reevaluating laws as research findings become public.
It has been noted through scientific research that male-to-male sexual intercourse was usually linked with an increased risk of being diagnosed with aids, the risk becoming least 60 times higher than for a person that only had sex with people from the opposite sex.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that the government will first take into account the recommendations of FDA scientists to then choose whether a more binding action is taken or not.
The fact I as a gay man can't donate blood to help the LGBT community is both ironic and horrible.
— MeMaw (@danieleasharpe1) June 12, 2016
LGBT rights and discrimination in America
The Obama administration is known for working towards developing pro-transgender rights, but it has faced with fierce opposition since the US House of Representatives managed to pass an approval to discriminate LGBT federal workers.
The Department of Education and Justice has developed plans to inform schools against discrimination of transgender students, mainly through the free use of the bathroom of their preference. Also, discrimination in health insurance was tackled by allowing transition-related medications and procedures to be covered by insurance companies.
Canada is another country known for their fair rulings. The current Liberal government issued a law that protects LGBT people from discrimination. It would allow gay, bi or trans people to avoid being turned away from a job offer or service based on their gender identity. Hate speech would also be prohibited to protect the integrity of LGBT people. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould stated: “We live in a time when discrimination in any form is completely unacceptable.”
Gay blood donation ban under fire in wake of Orlando shooting https://t.co/J5fFjJCAXB
— TIME.com (@TIME) June 13, 2016
There’s also the issue of North Carolina’s “bathroom law.” Governor Pat McCrory was urged by the U.S. Department of Justice to respond if the state would follow the anti-LGBT law known as HB2. According to officials, it is a requirement that sponsors discrimination against transgender people. It was passed three months ago, and it forbids transgender people to use the bathroom in government buildings and schools that match their gender identity.
The law was supported by 11 states through lawsuits towards the federal government. The lawsuit was led by Texas and it seeks to declare the measure as invalid, as it supposedly violates the 10thand 14th Amendments, including state sovereignty.
Violent reactions are not uncommon
Orlando needs blood donations, but the FDA still bans many gay, bi, and trans people from giving https://t.co/oPPfE9q7kK
— Vox (@voxdotcom) June 12, 2016
Besides the recent events of Orlando’s shooting, LGBT people have been in the sights of discrimination in many forms. Back in April this year, Steven Nelson from Idaho responded to a gay escort ad. He was brutally assaulted by his contact and ultimately murdered.
His assailant stripped him naked and kicked several times with steel-tipped boots. Nelson managed to find help, but he died as he was being attended in the hospital. As he struggled to survive, he managed to reveal the details of his assailant to the police. It was Kelly Schneider who posted the ad, with three other men.
Although much progress has been achieved in the field of LGBT rights, there is still a long way to go. It is clear that due to many terrible discrimination events, U.S. lawmakers still need to look forward to implementing more aggressive inclusion policies.
But it could be that more radical reactions occur in response to the measures. As time passes, civilians and politicians are taking clearer stances regarding the proposals concerning LGBT individuals. Even if gay marriage is legalized, the LGBT community is far from enjoying the same rights and treatment as straight people.