For Immediate Release
July 19, 2017
Trudeau marches in Pride Parade, fails to end homophobic blood ban
HALIFAX—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that he will be marching in the Halifax Pride Parade. While Trudeau has been celebrated as the first Prime Minister to march in a Pride parade, his government has yet to end the homophobic and transphobic blood donation ban for guys who have sex with guys, and those who have sex with them.
“Prime Minister Trudeau is using Pride as an opportunity to gain political clout for himself and his party without taking action on issues that affect the community,” said Aidan McNally, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “Instead of paying lip-service to the queer and trans community he should be taking steps to immediately end the blood ban.”
Despite multiple nationwide blood shortages since 2013, Canadian Blood Services continues to prevent guys who have sex with guys, and those who have sex with them, from donating blood without celibacy, a policy which originated in the 1980s at a time when very little was known about HIV and AIDS. As science has progressed, nearly 20 countries have adopted screening policies that focus on behaviours that are scientifically proven to be higher-risk for transmitting blood-borne pathogens, not outdated stereotypes of queer and trans people.
While Trudeau promised to eliminate the ban in his election campaign, his government has only reduced the five-year deferral to a one-year deferral period, meaning only those in this targeted group who remain celibate for one-year may be eligible to donate. For many, this is effectively a life long ban. In addition, the Trudeau government has introduced new transphobic screening procedures that further prevent LGBTQ+ participation in the life-saving act of giving blood.
“This policy is not grounded in science, only in prejudice,” said McNally. “At a time when Canadian Blood Services continues to stress the increasing need for blood donations, it is absurd that this government continues a discriminatory policy that flies in the face of expert knowledge.”
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 650,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.