Photo: Kellie Parker, Flickr

Anti-LGBT group launches campaign to prevent gay people from donating blood

By Sofia Resnick
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 10:15 am

Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) last week launched a campaign to prevent gay men from donating blood. Keep the Gay Blood Ban (KGB²) was sparked, LaBarbera says, because of “renewed lobby efforts to open up the U.S. blood supply to homosexuality-practicing men.”

Since 1983, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned blood donations from men who have ever had sex with men and women who have ever had sex with men who have had sex with men. In 2010, 40 members of Congress called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to lift the ban on gay men donating blood. However, LaBarbera only mentioned Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), “who represents the homosexual Boystown neighborhood in Chicago,” in his KGB² launch article on AFTAH’s website.

Last year, the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety & Availability for HHS recommended the ban not be lifted, due to lack of sufficient data to support revising the policy. The committee did, however, recommend further research into a possible ban lift, at least for “low-risk” gay and bisexual men. And just last month HHS announced that following the studies’ completion, a comprehensive evidence-based policy evaluation will begin.

In Kerry’s original letter to the committee, he was joined by medical experts at the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers and the American Medical Association in the position that the current blood donor policy (PDF) is discriminatory and “medically and scientifically unwarranted,” pointing out that heterosexual individuals who engage in risky sexual behavior are not subjected to a lifetime ban as gay men are. For example, heterosexual individuals who have had sex with HIV-positive individuals are only banned for a one-year period, as are heterosexual individuals who have had sex for money.

“Sadly, Sen. Kerry and others crusading against the homosexual blood ban do so on the basis that the ban is mainly about ‘anti-gay discrimination’ rather than preserving public health,” LaBarbera wrote in the article.

The thrust of LaBarbera’s call to continue banning gay men from donating blood is a pubic health flier about anal sex between men (PDF) produced by Asian Health Services and funded by the California AIDS Clearinghouse.

The flier -– which graphically describes various sex practices and positions, accompanied by images of LEGO-style men demonstrating such positions — discusses health risks of oral, anal and oral-anal sex between men and speaks to the importance of using a condom to prevent the spread of disease.

LaBarbera implies that the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is common for all gay men, quoting from the flier: “Anal sex is the riskiest sexual activity for getting/spreading HIV.” He does not, however, quote the rest of that paragraph: “That risk goes up if you have more sex partners, if you f*** without a condom or if you have sex with someone who has HIV.”

LaBarbera writes:

[F]ew seem interested in investigating – much less restricting – the actual high-risk homosexual practices and deviant behaviors depicted and described in this (pro-‘gay’) flier, which crassly helps explain the immense heath [sic] risks of male homosexuality We excerpt this flier – vulgar slang references and all – to help educate the public as to how this lifestyle is so dangerous that men who practice it must be kept from the nation’s blood supply.

LaBarbera asks readers to contact their U.S. senators and representatives and ask them “to put the safety of Americans – and a pristine blood supply – ahead of the demands of the selfish Homosexuality Lobby.” He also wants congressional leaders to launch an investigation “into the health hazards of homosexual behaviors (just as the government studied the dangers of smoking).”

AFTAH defines itself as “a group dedicated to exposing the homosexual activist agenda.” Its nonprofit status was recently revoked by the Internal Revenue Service for failure to comply with IRS nonprofit filing requirements.

The Southern Poverty Law Center still defines AFTAH as a hate group (among 29 others in the Illinois, where the organization is based). In a December 2010 conversation with the Minnesota Family Council’s Barb Anderson, AFTAH’s LaBarbera agreed that the SPLC’s designation is a badge of honor. “If you are not on the SPLC hate list, you are not doing enough,” he said.

Correction: This article originally stated that the FDA banned gay men from donating blood, for a lifetime, in 1977. In fact, this policy on “men who have sex with other men” began in 1983; 1977 — deemed the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. — is the cutoff year for “men who have sex with other men.” In other words, men who stopped having sex with other men before 1977 can donate blood. We regret the error.



Disgusted American
Comment posted August 10, 2011 @ 10:53 am

Hey peter- thats why we have TESTING of ALL Blood Products you eff’n dope…….cause, well you know – straight people never cheat…or are on the DL etc etc…..

Comment posted August 10, 2011 @ 11:02 am

In your second paragraph, the ban hasn’t been in place since 1977, that’s the year they use for a cutoff for sexual contact with a man by another man. The ban went into effect in, I believe, 1983 (that’s the year I’ve seen in other stories). Just a clarification.

Wendy Leigh
Comment posted August 10, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

The CDC also classifies ALL heterosexual penatrative sex as high risk sex for all of you heterosexuality-practicing folks. Yep, same catagory pumpkin-eater. The epitome of redefining truth.

I always find it exceptionally amusing when heterosexuality-practicing men claim they have a cleaner penis parts than everyone else. PP still looks like he could stand some basic grooming tips from Queer Eye for the “Straight” guy.

Comment posted August 10, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

A man can have unprotected sex with a prostitute and give blood 12 months later. However, if that same guy had one incident of protected sex with a condom with another man in college 30 years ago and have never tested positive for anything, he’s banned from giving blood for life. Someone please tell me why that makes sense.

I understand risk behaviors must be factored in, but it’s obvious there’s an anti-gay bias in the current rules.

Paul Schmelzer
Comment posted August 10, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

Thanks, Lambo. Corrected.

Comment posted August 10, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

I think I would rather have a blood donation from a clean living gay person than some of the straight people who are nasty, cheating, or promiscuous

Comment posted August 17, 2011 @ 12:27 am

This doesn’t surprise me… I had to sign something, when I had my first child, in effect that I (nor my husband) had not had any type of homosexual sex previously… in order to donate the umbilical cord.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.