FDA: OK for gays to donate blood now, but only if they aren’t having icky gay sex

The FDA is reportedly set to lift its ban on accepting blood donations from gay men, but only for gay men who have been abstinent for at least a year:

In other words, the FDA has basically adopted the Catholic Church’s stance on being gay: same-sex attraction is fine, as long as you don’t act on it. They don’t have a problem with you being gay, per se. They just maintain that gay sex is ickier, and more dangerous, than straight sex.

Blood donations, via Wikimedia Commons

Blood donations, via Wikimedia Commons

This is at least a marginal improvement over the FDA’s previous policy, which prohibited men who had ever had sex with another man from donating blood. Ever. Despite the fact that all donations are tested for all of the sexually transmitted diseases that gay and straight men and women could possibly contract.

But still, come on. The organization has effectively admitted that their prior policy was unscientific and unnecessarily discriminatory by replacing it with a slightly different unscientific, discriminatory policy.

As David Badash pointed out, this policy isn’t motivated by an attempt to select donors who are engaging in safer sexual behaviors. It’s just discriminatory for the sake of being discriminatory. If you’re a gay man in a monogamous relationship or marriage, you’re barred from being a donor. If you’re a heterosexual man who has unprotected, anonymous sexual encounters with a different woman every week, the FDA is fine with you donating.

Sure, they may throw your donation out after they test it for diseases — as they do with every donation — but they’ll let you go through the process before they do.

Badash also pointed readers in the direction of this analysis from Nate Silver, which showed that completely lifting the ban on gay donors could save up to 1.8 million lives annually. By continuing to bar most gay men from donating blood, the FDA is continuing to let people die for the sake of discrimination.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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10 Responses to “FDA: OK for gays to donate blood now, but only if they aren’t having icky gay sex”

  1. Moderator3 says:

    Good rule for everyone.

  2. Moderator3 says:

    If you are going to be a halfway decent troll, get your facts straight.

  3. Alek Kolchak says:

    Wrong. Read my post above. Suggestion: Stop, think and apply some common sense before opening your mouth.

  4. Alek Kolchak says:

    Yes, as a matter of fact they do. How do you think they find out if a person is a homosexual? What? You thought homosexuals were born with their sexual orientation tattooed on their left arm?

  5. Alek Kolchak says:

    Blood donations ought to be labelled as to gender and sexual orientation of the donor. Truth in advertising–wouldn’t that be a good thing?

  6. Alek Kolchak says:

    63 percent of all HIV/AIDs carriers in the USA are gay men. Would you knowingly accept a transfusion of blood donated by a gay man? I wouldn’t.

  7. BeccaM says:

    So, you can be a gay man in a committed monogamous relationship, having sexual relations with your husband, and as long as that’s happened in the last year, the FDA says the risk of your being diseased is too high to risk receiving blood or plasma donations from you.

    On the other hand, if you are a straight person who engages in “bareback” risky sex, including potentially anal intercourse, and you sleep with a different person every night, the FDA is totally fine with it. Donate all you like.

    This is bullshit. It is not at all rational. And it is bigoted.

  8. JaneE says:

    Discriminatory, pure and simple. Someone needs to sue.

    I thought the FDA had doctors on staff. The more I hear about their rules, the less likely that seems. There certainly seems to be a lack of basic understanding about a lot of medical issues, and a lot of pure politics or maybe public opinion.

  9. UncleBucky says:

    Nope.

  10. nicho says:

    Do they ask that from straight people? Why not. Straight people get HIV too. Do they grill them about multiple sex partners, frequenting prostitutes, etc.?

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