The new Sexual Behaviour Based criteria is an exciting step towards equity and inclusion for some donors.
However, there is still a long way to go, and this change still disproportionately affects gay, bi and queer men.
The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance posted a great critique and commentary on the change on their Facebook page. The Toronto Star also published an article outlining some of the problems that still exist for different groups of donors.
Many groups will still be excluded from donation. Here are a few examples of the policies that need to change:
Questions that disproportionately affect equity-deserving groups should be removed and/or changed. This includes:
Why haven’t these policies been addressed already? Why is change taking so long?
Many of the people who are affected by these policies are from equity-deserving groups that society has made moral judgements on. This needs to change. Being excluded from donation is a form of social exclusion, and a health equity issue. For example, some conditions are more common in certain ethnocultural groups, like sickle cell and thalassemia. Because of the lack of diversity in donors, it is more difficult to find blood matches for people with these conditions and need rare blood type matches.
Some of the people we spoke to in our interviews wouldn’t donate plasma (or engage with Canadian Blood Services), until fair policies were put into place. Others felt that this was not a good way to protest unfair policies because it hurts people who need donations rather than the institutions that uphold homophobic policies. They supported other ways to protest the eligibility policies such as:
Links to Organizations Fighting for Fair Policies