Australia May Uplift The Ban On LGBTQIA+ People Donating Blood…Kinda

Good news, Australia. If you’re a queer, sexually active man who wants to donate blood rn, and haven’t had sex in the last three months, you soon might be able to. 

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals are in dire need of blood transfusions. As such, an Australian theraupitic goods regulator is pushing to reduce the period in which a queer man has had sex with another man, letting more of us queer folks donate.

The current policies on queer men donating blood

Just like in the U.S., here in Australia, if a queer man has had sex with another man within the last twelve months, they aren’t allowed to donate. 

And, it applies to more than just queer men-loving-men but the broader LGBTQIA+ community. The ban also applies to men who have sex with men, women who have sex with men who have had sex with men, transgender men who have had sex with men, people who have had sex in a country with a high rate of HIV, people who have had sex with an injecting drug user and sex workers. 

But, as SBS reports, on Wednesday, the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) announced plans to shorten that period to three months. Effectively, for this to take effect, it would need to be approved by state and territory governments.

The story follows Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and others pushing for the country to shorten similar terms in the U.S.

But advocates say it isn’t enough

While this would potentially let more LGBTQIA+ people donate blood during a crisis, especially when hospitals need it most, queer advocates say the change isn’t enough. 

In fact, as spokesperson for LGBTQIA+ advocacy group just.equal, Rodney Croome, told SBS, the celibacy rule on all sexually active queer men is a remnant of the HIV outbreak in the 1980s, when HIV transmission was unclear and “being gay was synonymous with having AIDS.”

“The new three-month celibacy rule will not significantly increase the amount of safe blood available for transfusion because it leaves most gay men who are safe to give blood still unable to donate,” Croome told SBS.

While a three month window is more realistic, it still continues to discriminate against queer men. Even further, it completely disregards those who practice safe sex or have been having sex with the same person during that three month period. Also, under the new changes, men who undertake pre-exposed HIV prevention medication like PrEP will need to wait a year after treatment before donating blood, meaning if you’re actively taking it to perform unprotected sex, you won’t be able to donate. That kinda blows.

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.

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