Why Canada’s blood donation ban for gay men matters for Jews

Photo by Nguyễn Hiệp/Unsplash

This past Monday, just in time for Pride Week, Canadian Blood Services quietly posted an update on their website, recommending the elimination of Canada’s “blood ban”. The ban forbids gay, bisexual and other queer men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with men in the last three months. The rule used to require five years of celibacy, before getting truncated down to one year; only in 2019 did Canadian Blood Services change the criteria, lowering it to three months.

Canadian Blood Services says they’re still worried about the risk of contaminating Canada’s blood supply—their data suggests gay men account for 40 per cent of all HIV cases. Nonetheless, they say they will send a report to Ottawa by the end of the year, urging Health Canada to let them scrap the blood ban and replace it with a questionnaire that asks all donors, regardless of sexual orientation, about their sexually risky behaviour.

On today’s episode, we hear from Moshe Appel, an activist who’s tweeted at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over 1,000 times in the last six years, in hopes the leader will keep an old campaign promise and nix the blood ban altogether.

What we talked about:

  • Follow Moshe Appel on Twitter @MosheBAppel
  • Read Canadian Blood Services’ recent post, “Evolving eligibility criteria for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” at blood.ca

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. Find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.