Thursday 18 January 2018

How can the European Court of Justice suddenly say it's ok to discriminate?

Blood donor
Blood donor

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the ban which prevents men who have sex with other men from giving blood, may be justified "in certain circumstances". Essentially, the verdict says that those who run a higher risk of some infectious diseases can be discriminated against when it comes to blood donation.

The logic is clearly sound. The ideology? Not so much. It's a fair guess that a monogamous responsible gay man in a long-term relationship is a far safer prospect as a blood donor than a promiscuous irresponsible straight man engaging in a succession of one night stands.

So why should we stand over a situation in which that gay man is precluded from doing what the straight man can do, just because of their sexuality?


We've spent the last few decades establishing that the excluding or discriminating against people because of their gender or race or sexuality is not only morally wrong, it's illegal. Why should we surrender such a hard-won principle?

It may be possible to point to a cohort of society and say they run a greater risk of x or y. But that should not be grounds to treat the members of that cohort differently.

In fact, we could come up with lists as long as our arms of things that are more or less common based on age, sex, race, physical ability. But we don't. We legally can't. Sometimes that means more work and cost. Big deal. If that's the price of equality, so be it.

If guaranteeing the safety of our blood supply means improving the screening of our donors, then let's do it. If we need to improve the sexual health and behaviour of our people, let's do it.

But let's do it for all, equally.

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