Britain: A bloody disgrace

March 14, 2008

Cradling my niece in my arms, she was white as a sheet and lying lifeless with the sedative effects of the medication — and only 3 weeks into this world. Heartache, uncertainty and concern.

A week later, two blood transfusions done and dusted, she lay in her incubator with a smile on her face and a glint in her eye.

It was at that point I decided to sign the register and give the gift of life — perhaps replace some of the blood she had so kindly been given and maybe save a few other lives along the way. It was nothing, a thirty-minute appointment, chocolate biscuits and a drink of orange juice — simple?

So you would think. I cannot give blood. My disease? I'm gay.

Gay and bisexual men in Britain cannot give blood as we are seen as a high risk of blood-borne infection and disease. The blood transfusion service claim "it's not about being gay and bisexual, its about the act of having sex with another man and the risk involved".

Hmmmm, that sounds gay to me.

Since the 1980s, the British government has tried to brush AIDS and HIV under the carpet and affix this disease firmly to the gay community. A scary shadow of homosexuality that dare not show its face in modern day blood transfusions.

Britain has seen a massive increase of cases of AIDS and HIV since the 1980s and surprisingly (for the government) this has been in the heterosexual community.

The British transfusion services have for years denied the gay community the option to give the gift of life, and instead have put the lives of British citizens at risk, should there be a major disaster and thousands of people needing blood.

Being gay means that you will bed hop, have multiple sexual partners and take risks no more than heterosexual people will.

The government must change this outdated, homophobic and offensive law and allow gay and bisexual people to give the gift of life.

I ask for support in the campaign to overturn this discriminatory situation. Please sign an online petition at <>. You can also join the bebo group at <>.

[Robert McDowell is a member of Scottish Socialist Youth, and can be contacted at <>.]

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