FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8/6/2014
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Council Calls for End to Blood Donation Ban for Gay and Bisexual Men
SEATTLE – City Council sent a letter to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday requesting an end to the lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. The Puget Sound Blood Center, Seattle Mayor Edward Murray and the American Medical Association have each made similar requests.
An excerpt from the letter reads, "Denying gay and bisexual men the opportunity to donate blood based on their sexual orientation is an outdated and discriminatory practice. We’ve advanced in our medical knowledge of HIV transmission and know transmission depends on behavioral risk factors. Donor screening for gay and bisexual men should be the same as for all other people and be based on a risk assessment of behaviors, rather than on sexual orientation."
"Sexual orientation shouldn’t dictate whether someone is able to help save a life," said Councilmember Sally J. Clark. "Any other person would be screened based on a risk assessment of their behavior. We’re only asking that gay and bisexual men also have that opportunity."
"The current ban should be repealed," said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. "It undermines the understanding of HIV risks and reinforces stereotypes and fear."
"On behalf of the City of Seattle LGBTQ employees for Equality, SEqual, we are encouraged by the action of the City Council to raise awareness of the FDA’s discriminatory policy excluding gay men and women that have sexual contact with bisexual men from giving blood. For nearly 30 years our gay city employees have been unable to donate blood at City co-sponsored blood drives because of this federal policy. It is long overdue that the FDA enacts a policy based on science and risk factors, not fear and ignorance. Thank you, Seattle City Council, for recognizing this inequity," said Aretha Alexander and Travis Taylor, Co-chairs of SEqual.