Red Cross challenged over new blood donor rules
This media release was issued by the TGLRG on 9.6.10.
"...the Red Cross decision-making process appears at best arbitrary and at worst homophobic."
- gay blood donor campaigner, Michael Cain
Gay blood donation campaign, Michael Cain, has called on the Australian Red Cross to explain why it has made it easier for people with tattoos and piercings to give blood but has maintained its blanket ban on all gay blood donors.
According to the 2010 blood donation form, to come into force on July 4th, people receiving piercings, tattoos and acupuncture treatment, will only have to wait six months before giving blood, down from the year-long ban which previously applied.
But if a man has sex with another man he must still wait a year until he can give blood.
"In the absence of a transparent process and publicly-available medical evidence, the Red Cross decision-making process appears at best arbitrary and at worst homophobic", Mr Cain said.
"Epidemiological evidence presented by the Red Cross's own advisors during my anti-discrimination case on gay blood donation showed that a six month gay deferral poses no risk to the blood supply."
"The current gay blood ban must be reviewed soon, and it must be reviewed by an independent body to ensure transparency and credibility."
The new donor form clarifies that male-to-male sex means anal or oral intercourse.
Men engaged only in other sexual activity including mutual masturbation have been allowed to give blood for several years, but until now the Red Cross's donor form did not make a distinction and potential donors had to volunteer the information to be allowed to donate.
Mr Cain said evidence presented during his case showed the HIV-transmission risk associated with male-to-male oral sex was so low as to pose no real risk to the blood supply.
In April the Red Cross announced it will review the current gay blood ban sometime in the next twelve months.
For a copy of the new form (which applies nationally but must be approved by all states and territories) visit
For a copy of the existing donor deferral periods visit
As a result of a complaint from Michael Cain against the gay blood ban, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found in May 2008 that some gay men have a risk of HIV infection lower than some people currently allowed to donate blood and recommended that the ban should be reviewed. For more visit
For more details of the proposed Red Cross review visit
For more information contact Michael Cain on 0400 734 798 or TGLRG spokesperson, Rodney Croome, on 0409 010 668.