THE BLOG
05/06/2015 08:26 BST | Updated 05/06/2016 06:59 BST

Not Being Allowed to Give Blood Because I'm Gay Makes My Un-Donatable Blood Boil

I might be able to walk down the aisle with my partner should I so wish, or start a family thanks to equal adoption laws, but give blood? Well, no, my blood simply isn't welcome at my local drop-in service, thank you very much. However, it is very much needed. My crime? Being gay.

Science Photo Library - TEK IMAGE.

There was a rallying cry in my office last week for volunteers to donate blood, which drew a few eye-opening responses care of 'reply all' , including 'I'm not allowed, I've had amoebic dysentery' and 'I'm still technically radioactive so can't either, sorry'.

As much fun as both of those things sound, neither is applicable to me. Despite this, and the fact I'm a healthy 43-year-old, I am also not allowed to give blood.

My crime? Being gay.

I might be able to walk down the aisle with my partner should I so wish, or start a family thanks to equal adoption laws, but give blood? Well, no, my blood simply isn't welcome at my local drop-in service, thank you very much.

However, it is very much needed.

The NHS has warned of a blood donation crisis, thanks to a 40% dive in new donations, and needs 204,000 new volunteers this year to ensure the nation's blood stocks are maintained at a 'safe' level.

That number would very quickly become 203,999 if I were allowed to donate some of that red stuff pumping through my veins.

And I know I'm not the only gay man who wouldn't hesitate in donating, given half the chance. In fact I'd hedge my bets and say, collectively, gay men could supply all of the required quota.

Of course, we could give blood if we really wanted to, thanks to the lifetime ban on gay men donating being lifted in 2011. However, we'd all have to abstain from any nookie for a whole year.

Yeah, like that's going to happen, and I'd also love to know just how that is policed.

"Have you had sex in the last 12 months, sir?"

"Errrrm, no?"

"Fantastic! You're in!"

Which is what makes this whole rule so ridiculous, illogical and outdated.

The blanket ban on sexually active gay men giving blood was introduced in the 1980s in response to the HIV epidemic.

I think we've all moved past the idea that HIV is a 'gay plague'. Newsflash: sexually active heterosexuals can also contract HIV and all manner of other STIs.

But funnily enough, there is no blanket ban on my straight friends and family (many of whom are way more promiscuous than my gay circle) from donating, which, quite honestly, makes me feel like I'm a lesser citizen.

And despite being very comfortable, and most importantly happy, in my own skin, this blatant inequality reignites feelings of shame in my out and proud self - and this from the very NHS that I, as a responsible, sexually active grown-up, use for my regular sexual MOTs.

Oh, the irony.

Of course, gay men aren't the only section of society who are banned from donating; new mums, the newly tattooed and sex workers are amongst those who are also prohibited.

But they are life choices, being gay is not, and the fact that an antiquated rule still exists in this day and age banning all gay men from donating needs to be addressed pronto, and it's never been more urgent.

We pose no greater risk to those needing blood than anyone else, so with all donated blood being screened, what exactly is the problem?

Donating blood saves lives. Whoever you are, whoever you love, you should be able to donate. Please join the campaign and sign the petition at www.freedomtodonate.co.uk