Friday, March 7, 2008

Mulcair loses it for good reasons; it's time for independent experts to re-examine gay blood ban

Just a couple of comments today.

Quebec NDP MP Thomas Mulcair lost it on some Tories yesterday in the House of Commons. However, the issue Mulcair was raising completely explains his anger. It's true that Kulenthiran Amirthalingam, a gay man, will face the possibility of time in prison and whipping for committing homosexual acts if he's forced to return to Malaysia. He must be allowed to stay in Canada.

If Mulcair's outburst gets this issue more attention, all the better.

UPDATE - Reporter Elizabeth Thompson provides additional insight into Mulcair's actions over this issue on her blog here.

In it, she describes a video (which Mulcair also viewed just before he held a press conference on Parliament Hill to call attention to the case of Kulenthiran Amirthalingan) depicting the kind of corporal punishment Amirthalingan could face as a homosexual man in Malaysia. The video is available on entitled 'Malaysia Caning Judicial Corporal Punishment'. I haven't yet worked up the courage to view it.

Sadly, Thompson reports that "Amirthalingan was deported Thursday and is expected to arrive in Malaysia later today. Amnesty International is monitoring to see what happens to him once he arrives."


This is also interesting. The lifetime ban on gay men donating blood has been contradicted by the five-year ban on gay men donating organs. If our organs are safe after five years, why is our blood off limits for a lifetime?

It seems officials with Canadian Blood Services and Health Canada are stuck in the 1980s mindset. It's time to appoint an independent panel of experts to look further into this issue to come up with policies that can keep the blood supply 100% safe, without promoting the old-fashioned stigma that gay men are diseased. Healthy, safe gay men should be allowed some way to donate blood as they do organs. These bans make our health care system weaker, not stronger.

1 comment:

Saskboy said...

I went to a CBS presentation on the 1977-now ban on "Male sex with male" donors. They either talked a good game, or actually are interested in changing the rule. Health Canada is who THEY have to convince, however, and without proof from studies that the risk is acceptably lower than other risks they also use for bans, it's unlikely to change any time soon. I'm in favour of removing the ban, or a least first reducing it soon because it's an imperfect kind of ban anyway.

The bottom line for me is that homosexual or not, if you donate within two weeks of becoming infected with HIV, you may pass on the infection because they don't have a test that works like something that could scan for the virus.