NI: MSM blood ban appeal takes place

Clare Bailey
Clare Bailey, deputy leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM) is being re-examined in the Northern Ireland Appeal Court.

It comes after a High Court judge ruled in 2013 that the lifetime ban on donations was “irrational”, “infected with bias” and could not continue.

Northern Ireland health minister Simon Hamilton and UK government health secretary Jeremy Hunt are appealing the judgment, stating blood donations are a devolved issue.

The appeal is expected to take four days.

According to a BBC investigation, thirty men have been prevented from donating blood at clinics in Northern Ireland since 2011 as a result of the ban, which is the only one of its kind in the UK.

In other parts of the UK, men can donate blood a year after they last had sexual contact with another man.

Clare Bailey, deputy leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland, criticised public spending on the appeal process.

Ms Bailey said: “There is no evidence to support the ban. Previous Minsters have been adjudged to have been irrational and ‘infected with bias’.

“Around £40,000 had been spent on this case by January 2015, with on/off Health Minister Simon Hamilton refusing to outline how much the Department’s ongoing legal battle is anticipated to cost the taxpayers.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told BBC News: “It would not be appropriate at this stage to comment on matters that are before the courts.”

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