Human Rights Commission to investigate why homosexuals cannot donate blood to National Blood Service

Human Rights Commission to investigate why homosexuals cannot donate blood to National Blood Service

By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 11/04/2017
The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director Ashwin Raj

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission will now investigate the guideline set by the Health Ministry that homosexuals cannot donate blood to the National Blood Service even if they have only one partner and practice safe sex.

Director Ashwin Raj says this policy is unconstitutional.

Raj says immediate action needs to be taken as this is contrary to the constitution.

The Health Ministry says that homosexuals are seen as high risk donors.

 Fijivillage raised this issue with the Health Ministry and the National Blood Service after we received confirmation that a man in his 20s was not allowed to donate blood during a recent blood drive due to his sexual orientation.

Whilst sharing his history with the Blood Service in front of other blood donors, the man was embarrassed when he was not given any reason on why he could not donate blood besides his sexual orientation.

No questions were asked as the National Blood Service official just assessed that the man is homosexual.

The man says that he was embarrassed because he was branded as a homosexual with the assumption that he has several partners although he only has one partner.

When questioned by Fijivillage, the Health Ministry says the World Health Organisation guidelines on blood transfusion recommend that donations of blood should not be accepted from people in a number of categories.

The Ministry says the purpose of excluding such people is to protect the donors themselves from potential risks of giving blood or to protect others from diseases that can be carried in donated blood.

The Health Ministry adds that to reduce the risk of spreading HIV through blood transfusions, the WHO guidelines also advise against accepting blood donations from people who engage in high‑risk sexual behaviour such as those who have multiple sex partners, receive or pay money or drugs for sex, including sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men and women who have sex with men who have sex with men.

The ministry stresses that Fiji is guided by WHO’s expert advice on blood transfusion.

In order to avoid intrusive questioning, including questioning about individuals’ sexual behaviour, anybody in the categories is asked to self‑exclude from donating blood. 

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