By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

OTTAWA, June 18 2010 ( – A court battle brewing between the Canadian agency in charge of collecting blood donations and an active homosexual could result in a ruling that removes the ban on homosexuals giving blood.

Canada Blood Services (CBS), which collects, screens and ensures the safety of the blood supply, sued homosexual Kyle Freeman last fall after he admitted to lying in the pre-donation screening process and giving blood despite the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men (MSM) giving blood.

The ban was put in place in 1985 after the Canadian Red Cross, in charge of the blood supply at the time, failed to properly screen donors. The result was that thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV and hepatitis C from contaminated blood.

Freeman has now launched a counter-suit against CBS, saying the ban on MSM giving blood discriminates against homosexuals and he has a right to give blood under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Freeman told the Globe and Mail that he lied on the pre-donation questionnaire in order to help those who needed blood and that the ban made him feel like a second-class citizen.

“It’s 2010,” he said in the G&M report. “It’s saddening to see our government so hell-bent on discriminating against people.”

If the court decides that the CBS policy banning homosexuals from donating blood to protect recipients from tainted blood is in violation of the Charter, the blood agency could be forced to rewrite its rules.

Court rulings on CBS's suit against Freeman and the counter-suit are expected later this summer.

The issue of the ban on homosexuals giving blood was brought into the spotlight recently when 2 Canadian researchers published an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) saying that the ban was “outdated and discriminatory.”

Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill University AIDS Centre at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, and Dr. Norbert Gilmore said that the test to detect HIV in the blood has improved since the 1980s when the ban was first introduced. They thought the ban was “hypocritical” because there are very few restrictions on heterosexual donors who may be sexually promiscuous.

However, Ron Vezina, director of media relations at Canadian Blood Services said, “As far as we're concerned, there's no evidence that's been introduced that suggests a change in policy wouldn't introduce incremental risk. We start off with the least risky donors and then we put them through the other processes for safety screening.”

Vezina added that Canada has a more than adequate blood supply and there is no need to introduce blood from high-risk donors into the system. “There hasn't been a blood shortage in Canada in recent history,” he said.

The U.S. has recently decided to maintain blood-donation rules that forbid practicing homosexuals from donating blood. On June 11, the federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability (ACBSA) voted 9-6 to continue to refuse any prospective blood donor if he is a man who has had sex with another man since 1977, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

To contact the Canadian blood collection agency with your concerns:

Canadian Blood Services
1800 Alta Vista Drive,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 4J5
Phone: (613) 739-2300
Fax: (613) 731-1411
Email: [email protected]

See related LSN articles:

Researchers Argue Homosexuals Should be Allowed to Give Blood

U.S. Blood Ban for Gays Remains


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