End the discriminatory practice of not allowing gays and lesbians to give blood

Dear Editor,

I refer with interest to the letter in Tuesday’s Stabroek News written by Vidyaratha Kissoon captioned ‘LGBT should be allowed to donate blood in Guyana’ and reinforce my support for the points made by the writer, since I was planning to pen a few similar words.

The sheer stupidity of the regulation debarring gay people from donating blood has resulted in a worldwide fight for governments to change the stipulation. The Canadian Blood Services, only a few months ago lifted its ban on gay men not being allowed to give blood. However, they must be abstinent for 5 years. In Britain and Australia, gay men who have not had sex within a year are also allowed to donate. In South Africa, it is six months, but the USA has instituted a lifetime ban, though there is also major opposition there.

The writer is correct. Gays are being singled out in the ‘risk’ they pose. Don’t straight people pose that risk too? Do gay people alone have HIV/AIDS? I came out in August. As I made my way to the N/A Blood Bank a few weeks ago, I was told that I cannot donate blood any more. I was a regular blood donor over the past three years or so. So now that everyone knows, will the blood service trace all the blood I donated over the past 3 years to see where it went and if it had any risks? There is a price to pay for being honest in this place. I can live with that though.

Let’s end this discriminatory practice and allow gays and lesbians to give blood, while at the same time ensuring strict measures are put in place to screen everyone’s blood—gay, lesbian or straight! Isn’t that what’s supposed to be done anyhow?

My blood was wanted when they did not know I was gay. And now what they are saying in reality is that my blood is not wanted, now that they know I am gay. Isn’t that nonsense? More so isn’t that discriminatory? But it isn’t me who will be losing. Every year, 18 lives will be deprived of blood to which I would have and could have donated (3 lives per donation; 6 donations per year). Sad indeed. I wonder too how the blood bank knows how honest people are when they answer those questions before donating blood.

Yours faithfully,
Leon Suseran

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