Members of Congress have called upon the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men who’ve had sex with men in the last year, pointing to new procedures that more accurately test for HIV.
Florida Rep. Alan Grayson told reporters today that the ban needs to be lifted in order to “treat all people equally.”
Grayson recognized the mass shooting that took place at Pulse nightclub on June 12, and the fact that gay men were unable to donate blood as a means to help the LGBT community during the shortage that ensued.
“We had two blocks that had to be cordoned off of people anxious to give blood that day, in the rain,” Grayson said. “Recognition of the impulse we all feel in times of tragedy, to help. No one should be turned away under those circumstances.”
The ban was originally placed because HIV targets gay men at a higher rate than other communities, and potentially infected blood can ruin large quantities of donations.
But that logic is inherently discriminatory, as Colorado Rep. Jared Polis pointed out.
“Gender of one’s partner has nothing to do with whether one is engaged in risky behavior or not,” said Polis. “Nothing [is] inherently different about the blood of gay or bisexual Americans.”