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Democrats Call on FDA to Lift Ban on Gay Blood Donors

Jul 1, 2016

House Democrats are calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end a policy that prevents gay men from donating blood unless they have abstained from sex for one year. According to the Washington Examiner, the lawmakers were fueled by the tragic mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

In the past, the FDA banned men from donating blood if they had sex with another man even once. Last year, the agency modified that policy; they can donate if they abstained from sex for one year. Although the policy is less restricted, gay rights activists and Democrats say it is still discriminatory, pointing out that abstinence is not required of heterosexual men with multiple partners. Instead of basing policies on sexual orientation, the lawmakers are asking the FDA to allow donations based on a person's risk of transfusion-transmissible infections.

"We're talking about a policy of the 20th century," said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif, according to Washington Examiner. "This is not a time to let the 20th century dictate how we do things in the 21st century." The letter, also signed by Reps. Barbara Lee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jared Polis, Dianne DeGette and Alcee Hastings, said "Due to the [men who have sex with men] deferral policy, many healthy gay and bisexual men are prohibited from donating desperately needed blood,"

The Human Rights Campaign also wants the ban to be removed. According to Washington Examiner, Government Affairs Director David Stacy said the ban is unfairly preventing gay men in Orlando from donating blood to victims. "As we think about Orlando, we have to find ways to reduce the stigma," said Stacy.

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