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Conservative MP pushes health minister to end limits on blood donations from gay men

Click to play video 'Ontario man fights restrictions on gay, bisexual men donating blood' Ontario man fights restrictions on gay, bisexual men donating blood
Ontario man fights restrictions on gay, bisexual men donating blood – Oct 14, 2019

Eric Duncan, the first openly gay Conservative MP, laced into the federal health minister Thursday over the Liberals failure to end a ban on gay men donating blood.

In a heated and emotional exchange during a late-night committee hearing in the House of Commons, Duncan pressed Patty Hajdu repeatedly, including a direct question on whether she’d accept a blood donation from him.

Hajdu didn’t directly answer, pointing to ongoing work to end a ban on donations from men who have sex with men.

Read more: U.S. relaxes rules for gay blood donors amid coronavirus — will Canada go further?

Canada banned blood donations from gay men since 1992 before allowing it in 2013 if the donor abstained from sex with another man for at least five years.

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That was changed to one year in 2016, and then three months in 2019.

But the Liberals promised to end the ban completely in both 2015 and 2019.

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LGBTQ2 community critical of three-month wait for gay blood donors – May 11, 2019

Duncan said there is a desperate need for blood donations during the second wave of COVID-19.

“I want to donate and make a difference, but I can’t because I’m gay,” he said. “In the year 2020, why is that?

Hajdu said both Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec are independent from government and they have to do the right amount of research to end the ban entirely.

Read more: Canada’s limitations on gay blood donations ‘ridiculous’: HIV researchers

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She said the organizations have been funded by the government to do that, but Duncan accused Hajdu of hiding behind bureaucrats.

“She had no problem during an election campaign telling gay men this would end,” he said.

Click to play video 'U.K. relaxes rules around gay men donating blood: should Canada follow?' U.K. relaxes rules around gay men donating blood: should Canada follow?
U.K. relaxes rules around gay men donating blood: should Canada follow? – Aug 4, 2017

Three times, he asked Hajdu directly if she’d accept a blood donation from him, and three times she did not directly answer.

“Does she not feel comfortable, from me as a gay man, taking my blood,” he asked.

Hajdu said as soon as the blood agencies submit their recommendations on how to end the ban, they will be reviewed and changes will be made.

“I think the gay blood ban needs to end,” she said.

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