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New rules political, not scientific

University of Western Ontario students assail donor regulations

The University of Western Ontario branch of Standing Against Queer Discrimination gives its reasons for not supporting the new organ donor rules, below.

Health Canada has recently instituted a new policy which bans all sexually active gay men from donating organs, regardless of their HIV status. This latest outrage from Health Canada, which came as a surprise even to many transplant organizations, illustrates both the arbitrariness of their policies with respect to gay men and their lack of commitment to any real change of their discriminatory and blatantly homophobic policies.

Firstly, this latest policy (banning gay men from donating organs) creates restrictions based on a 5-year ban, excluding only men who have had sex with men in the last 5 years. In combination with their Jun 2007 decision to continue banning blood donation from men who have had sex with men since 1979, it becomes clear that rather than basing these decisions on scientific facts regarding HIV prevalence in various populations, they are instead assigning arbitrary restrictions.

The reasoning behind these arbitrary policy decisions becomes evident when their purpose is considered. Rather than promoting the safety of the blood or organ supply, the publicly-stated reasoning for these policies, the policy instead serves the purpose of ‘reassuring’ the public — convincing them that yes, those dangerous groups (gay men, IV drug users, and sex workers) have been filtered out. The use of stereotypes and outdated beliefs to restore the public’s trust is being chosen instead of rigorous scientific research, and this is not acceptable from an organization which claims to have the best interests of all Canadians at heart.

We join with those across the country calling for a clear and evidence-based explanation for both the old policy and the new, as well as an assurance that any restrictions are based on the behaviours and actions found to increase risk, rather than membership in a supposed “high-risk group”.

Standing Against Queer Discrimination – University of Western Ontario
SAQD-UWO