The Rainbow Project, the largest support and advocacy organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people, and their families, in Northern Ireland expressed surprise at the response of the new Sinn Fein Health Minister Michelle O’Neill to a question about the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.
Appearing on BBC Newsline, Minister O’Neill was asked about when she would enact her party’s stated policy and remove the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men her response was: ‘Let me talk about all those issues within the department and with my executive colleagues.’
Reacting to the Minister’s comments, Gavin Boyd, Policy Manager for The Rainbow Project said: ‘We congratulate Minister O’Neill on her appointment and hope to continue our positive engagements with her in the coming mandate however, we must also call on her to immediately remove the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that this policy decision lies with the Minister for Health and therefore there is no need for consultation with other executive ministers. This illogical policy could and should be removed immediately.’