Lift the ban on gay blood donors, urges Aodhan O'Riordan
The controversial ban on gay men giving blood should be lifted, according to Equality Minister Aodhan O'Riordan.
Gay men who have been sexually active are subject to a lifetime ban on donating blood under existing guidelines.
The restriction was introduced in the 1980s but in recent years a number of countries have reduced or removed the ban.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar is due to make a decision on the ban.
He has already signalled that whatever decision was finally arrived at would be based on scientific data.
However, Mr O'Riordan has now publicly entered the debate by saying that it's time for the ban to be lifted.
"It's an equality issue, it makes sense to me," he said.
He also that a proposed compromise, whereby gay and bisexual men would be allowed to give blood only if they had abstained from sex with men for a year, would be seen as "offensive".
However, he pointed out that he was not the person who was going to make a decision on the matter - the Health Minister was.
"He is somebody who is perfectly positioned to make a determination on that, and I mean by that on the basis of his responsibilities," said Mr O'Riordan, in remarks reported by the Irish Examiner.
Tiernan Brady of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said that the most important thing was safety of the blood supply, but the ban needed to be lifted as medical science has moved on considerably since the 1980s.
Mr Varadkar said previously that he had received a report from the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) that presented a number of options.
It is understood that the options include a removal of the ban, keeping it in place or introducing a deferral period of 12 months before donation.