Red Cross Defends Donor Policy

Red CrossAUSTRALIA – The Red Cross Blood Service will defend its donor-screening policies in the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal today as blood supplies reach dangerously low levels across the nation.
Tasmanian man Michael Cain claims the service’s donor policy discriminates against gay men.
Mr Cain launched the challenge last year after he was told he could not donate blood because he had had male-to-male sex in the previous 12 months.
The 23-year-old assembly worker said last month the policy should consider whether people had safe sex, rather than their sexual preferences.
The move comes just one day after the blood service made an urgent call for donors as supplies nationally reached dangerously low levels.
Spokeswoman Bonita Mersiades said yesterday the service had only a day and a half of supplies left.
Ms Mersiades said only 3 per cent of Australians had given blood in the past 12 months.
“Even if we increased the 3 per cent to 5 per cent, and those people all gave blood three times a year we would be fine,” she said.
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome said Mr Cain’s challenge could have international implications for gay donors.
Only Italy and Spain allow gay men who have safe sex to donate blood, but donor policies are being questioned in Britain and the US.
“The Tasmanian tribunal hearings will be watched carefully by governments and health experts the world over,” Mr Croome said.
Today’s hearing will set timetables and establish key information to be obtained for future hearings.
from The Australian

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