Opposition slams “discrimination” against gay would-be blood donors

Gay men who have sex with other men are not allowed to donate blood in Portugal due to “risk factors”. Only in the case of “abstinence” is it allowed, a parliamentary health commission heard yesterday, against howls of “discrimination” from Opposition MPs.

A request tabled by the Left Bloc (BE) was what brought Hélder Trindade, the president of the Portuguese Institute for Blood and Transplants (IPST), to defend the ruling.

“Sexual contact between men is considered a risk factor,” he explained, saying it had nothing to do with discriminating against homosexuals, but much more to do with the “very high” prevalence of HIV/Aids in the male homosexual community.

Left wing MPs were not convinced.

Socialist MP Elza Pais said: “It’s not just gay men who have anal sex,” adding “if anal sex is considered a risk factor, then how do you guarantee the security of blood donated by straight people who also have anal sex?”

BE’s José Soeiro dubbed the ‘men who have sex with men’ risk factor contention “absurd” and filled with “prejudice”.

“It doesn’t take into account that people may use protection,” he said.

A working group was set up in 2010 to study this “discrimination” angle, and Trindade assured the committee that results will be presented “soon”.