Today, The Rainbow Project, the largest support and advocacy organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGB&T) people in Northern Ireland, welcomed the announcement by DUP Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA that blood donation regulations should be based on medical evidence.

Speaking on the announcement, Director of The Rainbow Project, John O’Doherty said: ‘We welcome that Minister Hamilton is breaking from his predecessors and accepting that the criteria for blood donations should be made on medical evidence and not personal opinion which has been held to amount to ‘apparent bias.’

‘However, the Minister has not yet stated that the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men should be lifted. We urge the Minister to clarify his position in this regard. All available evidence shows that moving from a lifetime ban to a one year deferral has not had a detrimental impact on the security of blood transfusions in the UK.

‘We would also urge the Minister to accept that all future decision about blood donations should also be made in the light of best medical evidence. UK Public Health Minister Jane Ellison MP has announced that the government will ‘look again’ at the provisions for blood donations from gay and bisexual men to determine whether there is merit in blanket deferrals based on the sexual orientation of potential donors as opposed to their risk of transmission of infections. We would hope that any future decision regarding blood donations from gay and bisexual men will be adopted by the Northern Ireland Minister for Health without an unnecessary four year delay.’