DCU students launch petition against gay male blood ban

A group of DCU students have started a petition to repeal a ban against gay males donating blood to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS).

The Irish Student Activism Network (ISAM) have gathered just over 100 signatures in two days against the ban and will decide the next course of action at their first public meeting which is to be held in the coming weeks.

“We have just over 100 signatures which we gained within two days. At the moment we haven’t decided whether to accept that number or try and continue to increase to a much larger target. But that will be decided at our first public meeting”, said Sean Cassidy of ISAM. They also plan to discuss SU involvement in the petition at the meeting.

“We have three fundamental aims. To increase engagement, to increase activism and to build a broader discourse amongst our students,” Cassidy said when speaking about the foundation of the group.

“It’s solely DCU based at the moment but our aims and their implementation could be reflected across campuses,” he continued.

ISAM was started when a number of DCU students met and spoke of the political apathy associated with students in DCU.

“We felt that if we could broaden the activist base within DCU and spread the values that have informed what we do, that it could only a positive effect and would be a stimulant for faster change within our student community.”

The ban specifically excludes men who have had sex with other men from donating blood. The IBTS have cited a higher risk of HIV being transmitted if men who have had sex with men donate.

However, in England, Scotland and Wales men who have sex with men are allowed to donate blood providing they haven’t had sexual activity with men in the past 12 months.

The IBTS “accepts that they are being discriminatory; we discriminate against several groups in the community insofar as we refuse to allow them to donate blood on the basis of perceived increased risk of spreading infections through blood transfusion.”

Several campaigns have been launched to repeal the ban but none have succeeded so far. As one of his last acts as Minsiter for Health, James Reilly had requested that the ban be repealed in a letter to chairperson of IBTS, Prof Anthony Staines.

Finnian Curran

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