After the last few days of controversy on the banning of gay men from donating blood, some calm appears to be settling on the issue.
The mainstream media seems to have realised that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s (GLA) much publicised “blood war” was little more than a hoax, and the South African National Blood Service (SANBS) is preparing for discussions with legitimate LGBTI organisations about the ban.
Following considerable lobbying of the media by LGBTI groups and concerned parties, including this website, journalists have been forced to investigate the Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s claims and have found them wanting. A SAPA news story was headlined “Where’s GLA’s protest blood?” and described the GLA as “discredited”.
Other news outlets have published statements by the SANBS admitting that it has found no evidence of the GLA’s claimed army of blood donors. According to the organisation, there was no unusual increase in blood donors over the period in question. SNBS spokesperson Ianthe Exall said that “We have checked the actual names of people who claim to have donated and have not seen an increase in our clinics.”
Progress has also been made on the matter of the ban itself, which bars sexually active gay men from donating blood. Following a meeting with the health department, the SANBS has agreed to initiate discussions with interested parties about the ban.
“We look forward to sitting down and talking to legitimate gay organisations to discuss the issue”, Exall told Mambaonoline.
While stressing the importance of ensuring a safe blood supply, a health department spokesperson said that, “The SANBS agreed to initiate discussions at the request of the department to resolve issues around the self-exclusion questionnaire that relates to men who had sex with men.”
The SANBS has also said that the question about whether a donor has engaged in anal sex will be reworded to be less insensitive.
Unsurprisingly the conservative African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has come out in support of the SANBS’s ban on barring gay men from donating blood.
“The ACDP supports the SANBS in their resolve to maintain their policy on blood donation by gay men”, it said in a statement.