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article imageOntario's High Court upholds ban on gay, bi men giving blood

By Carolyn E. Price     Sep 9, 2010 in World
An Ontario Superior Court judge has decided to come down on the side of safety with her decision to uphold the ban by the national blood supplier on gay or bisexual men donating blood.
A gay Toronto man has lost his Charter of Rights and Freedoms defense that he did not have to tell the Canadian Blood Services that he was gay when giving blood.
CBS had sued 36-year-old Kyle Freeman for "negligent misrepresentation" after the gay man concealed his sexual identity on the standard blood donor form, the CBC reports.
Freeman had argued that the question on sexual orientation violated his constitutional right to equal treatment and also that the CBC policy further "perpetuated" the Canadian public's belief that all gay men must have HIV and/or AIDS.
In her written judgment, Ontario Superior Court Judge Catherine Aitken, sided with the CBS citing many issues, the foremost being the safety of Canada's blood supply.
Excerpts from Aitkins 187-page decision:
I accept that as individuals, many gay and bisexual MSM (men having sex with men) may experience a loss of dignity, a feeling of marginalization, a sense of disappointment, and a sense of injustice when denied the opportunity to give blood, and these reactions may be all the stronger and more poignant due to the history of discrimination experienced by gay and bisexual men.
These are significant ramifications on the quality of life. That impact, however, is not in the same league as a blood recipient who has to use blood or blood products in order to survive or make life livable, and who is asked to accept lower safety standards even though an adequate supply of blood could be provided if higher safety standards were imposed.
They also have a history of the system failing them. And if the system fails them again, their lives may be on the line.
The judge also held Freeman liable for $10,000 to the blood bank.
The Canadian AIDS Society, CFS and Egale Canada issued a statement saying they were "very disappointed" with the court's decision.
The Executive Director of the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS), Monique Doolittle-Romas, is quoted as saying:
Although the judge agreed with us that there is no evidence to justify the current deferral period being used, which applies to any man who had sex with another man even once since 1977, the court refused to order a change. It was also disturbing that the Court saw this as a contest between safety and gay rights. In fact, we know through our work in HIV/AIDS that the only strategies that work are the ones that respect human rights.
The Chief Executive Officer of CBS, Dr. Graham Sher, was scheduled to respond to the ruling today at an 11 a.m. presser in Ottawa, ON.
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