LGBT want to donate blood

LGBT want to donate blood

Red Cross urged to reconsider stance

People come to donate blood at the Thai Red Cross Society on 28 August 2021 to help shore up dwindling blood supplies. The shortage, caused by an upsurge in demand for blood triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, is forcing some hospitals to postpone surgery. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
People come to donate blood at the Thai Red Cross Society on 28 August 2021 to help shore up dwindling blood supplies. The shortage, caused by an upsurge in demand for blood triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, is forcing some hospitals to postpone surgery. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

An LGBT+ activist has urged the Thai Red Cross to change its blood donation criteria and allow people from the LGBT+ community to donate, especially when blood is in short supply.

Nikorn Chimkong, the Bangkok Rainbow Organisation and the HIV Foundation Asia chairman, told the Bangkok Post that efforts by LGBT+ activists urging the Thai Red Cross over the blood donation issue have included protests and petitions.

But efforts have proved unsuccessful, he said.

Mr Nikorn said the problem is the issue has become a battle between the rights of the blood recipients versus LGBT rights.

He said the Thai Red Cross considered the rights of blood recipients, while at the same time, the LGBT, especially gay males or men who have sex with men (MSM), were stigmatised and discriminated against.

"On the blood donation form, each blood donor is required to answer 37 questions," Mr Nikorn said.

"Question 15 asks, 'Are you a man who used to have sex with a man?' which stigmatises both gay males and transwomen because when they tick 'yes', they are then barred from donating blood for the rest of their life," he said.

The Thai Red Cross drew on claims by the International Red Cross that homosexual males or MSM have a 10% risk of transmitting disease, especially STDs, via blood.

But Mr Nikorn said this line of reasoning has a big flaw -- although the 10% may reflect the risk in relation to the estimated total global population, it did not reflect the risk locally in Thailand.

"To make it fair, it would be better if the Thai Red Cross allows LGBT to donate their blood and conduct research on this matter," he said.

Mr Nikorn said the ban effectively stigmatised LGBT people as being "promiscuous", "dirty" or having "sinful blood", which was unfair.

"The Thai Red Cross has overlooked the reality of the LGBT community, especially the diversity of gay males," he said.

Mr Nikorn said that with blood being in scarce supply, many LGBT people wanted to help society.

It would be better for the Thai Red Cross to ensure the safety of blood donors and receivers without stigmatisation while considering the recipients' rights at the same time, he added.

According to the Thai Red Cross, the criteria for screening out male gays from donating blood is a universal practice.

It is not about having or not having the right to donate blood, the Thai Red Cross said.

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