Canada’s unions celebrate end to discriminatory blood donation policy

April 28, 2022

Bruske: Long-awaited victory for 2SLGBTQI advocates

OTTAWA –– After waiting three decades, Canada’s unions welcome today’s decision by the Canadian government to reverse its discriminatory blood donation policy, which had been in place since 1992.   

“This is a positive step in addressing ongoing systemic discrimination experienced by 2SLGBTQI people,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).  “By ending the ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men, the government and Canadian Blood Services are finally ending this discriminatory and unscientific practice which perpetuated negative homophobic and transphobic stereotypes.”

The ban reinforced a negative stigma surrounding men who have sex with men and misgendered trans women for the purposes of blood donation, preventing potentially healthy donors from donating blood.

“It should not have taken such a long time to ensure that all people are treated equally. Fear and negative stereotypes about men who have sex with men made this ban last for three decades,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President. “Today, the government and Canadian Blood Services have adopted criteria that is gender neutral with behaviour-based screening and finally ended this unacceptable homophobic and transphobic policy, once and for all. Now Canadian Blood Services must work to earn the trust of the 2SLGBTQI community and encourage much-needed donations.”

The federal Liberals made a campaign promise in 2015 to end the discriminatory blood ban following years of activism and pressure from the 2SLGBTQI and human rights advocates. The ban has been challenged at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and in June 2021 the federal government lost an attempt to terminate the tribunal’s inquiry.  

“Today we celebrate alongside all of the activists and the 2SLGBTQI community and we thank the advocates who have worked so hard to make this day possible,” said Bruske. “This victory has taken far too long, but today’s announcement is about saving lives, and making up for years of missed opportunities for those who were excluded from donating simply because of their sexuality or gender identity”.


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