SA blood services denies mass gay blood donation

Danny McCoy | January 20, 2006

Luiz DeBarros
CAPE TOWN — The South African National Blood Service refuted claims made by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance that a mass blood donation by gay and bisexual donors had been made to protest laws that forbid men who have sex with men from donating.

The service told news syndicate Reuters they could not trace the names of alleged alliance donors, nor had it experienced a significant increase in donations.

Meanwhile, gay and lesbian organizations throughout the country have slammed the GLA as a fake organization, calling the mass donation �a hoax.� The GLA, once a registered political party according to the South African Independent, is made up of one �publicity-hungry man� and not the 157,000 members of the gay community it claims to represent, a spokesperson for the blood service said Tuesday.

GLA media director David Baxter said on Monday that more than 600 pints of blood had been donated by gay and bisexual men since Friday, in protest to what he called the blood service�s �homophobic policy.�

But National Blood Service spokesman Ianthe Exall said yesterday: �There has been no significant increase in blood donations anywhere in the country.� Nor had there been a noticeable increase in first-time donors, which could have supported claims of a campaign, Exall said.

The letter stated that the men allegedly donated blood while not disclosing their gay lifestyle, in defiance of an SANBS questionnaire which asks men whether they have had sex with other men in the past five years.

Several gay and lesbian organizations have spoken out against the GLA�s claims. Luiz DeBarros, editor of the gay lifestyle website Mamba Online, said the GLA is �widely derided within the gay community� and has not been able to prove assertions of its membership or support.

�Repeated attempts by various gay community organizations and media to interact with the GLA have been ignored,� he said.

DeBarros criticized the media for reporting the GLA�s claims as facts, which he said could stir up �homophobia and potentially lead to retaliatory violence against homosexuals.�

Blood donation by men who have sex with men is illegal in many countries around the world. Medical experts say that while all blood is tested for HIV, the risk factor involved in accepting donations from men who have sex with men is too great to change the laws. Issued by Gay Link Content

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Statements by OUT and Cape Town Pride Festival regarding GLA and blood donation in SA



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