Anti-LGBT group launches campaign to keep gay people from donating blood
UPDATE: Aug. 10, 2011, 3:15 p.m., with a correction
Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) last week launched a campaign to prevent gay men from donating blood. Keep the Gay Blood Ban (KGB²) was sparked, LaBarbera says, because of “renewed lobby efforts to open up the U.S. blood supply to homosexuality-practicing men.”
Since 1983*, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned blood donations from men who have ever had sex with men and women who have ever had sex with men who have had sex with men. In 2010, 40 members of Congress called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to lift the ban on gay men donating blood. However, LaBarbera only mentioned Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), “who represents the homosexual Boystown neighborhood in Chicago,” in his KGB² launch article on AFTAH’s website.
Last year, the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety & Availability for HHS recommended the ban not be lifted, due to lack of sufficient data to support revising the policy. The committee did, however, recommend further research into a possible ban lift, at least for “low-risk” gay and bisexual men. And just last month HHS announced that following the studies’ completion, a comprehensive evidence-based policy evaluation will begin.
In Kerry’s original letter to the committee, he was joined by medical experts at the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers and the American Medical Association in the position that the current blood donor policy (PDF) is discriminatory and “medically and scientifically unwarranted,” pointing out that heterosexual individuals who engage in risky sexual behavior are not subjected to a lifetime ban as gay men are. For example, heterosexual individuals who have had sex with HIV-positive individuals are only banned for a one-year period, as are heterosexual individuals who have had sex for money.
“Sadly, Sen. Kerry and others crusading against the homosexual blood ban do so on the basis that the ban is mainly about ‘anti-gay discrimination’ rather than preserving public health,” LaBarbera wrote in the article.
The thrust of LaBarbera’s call to continue banning gay men from donating blood is a pubic health flier about anal sex between men (PDF) produced by Asian Health Services and funded by the California AIDS Clearinghouse.
The flier -– which graphically describes various sex practices and positions, accompanied by images of LEGO-style men demonstrating such positions — discusses health risks of oral, anal and oral-anal sex between men and speaks to the importance of using a condom to prevent the spread of disease.
LaBarbera implies that the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases is common for all gay men, quoting from the flier: “Anal sex is the riskiest sexual activity for getting/spreading HIV.” He does not, however, quote the rest of that paragraph: “That risk goes up if you have more sex partners, if you f*** without a condom or if you have sex with someone who has HIV.”
[F]ew seem interested in investigating – much less restricting – the actual high-risk homosexual practices and deviant behaviors depicted and described in this (pro-‘gay’) flier, which crassly helps explain the immense heath [sic] risks of male homosexuality We excerpt this flier – vulgar slang references and all – to help educate the public as to how this lifestyle is so dangerous that men who practice it must be kept from the nation’s blood supply.
LaBarbera asks readers to contact their U.S. senators and representatives and ask them “to put the safety of Americans – and a pristine blood supply – ahead of the demands of the selfish Homosexuality Lobby.” He also wants congressional leaders to launch an investigation “into the health hazards of homosexual behaviors (just as the government studied the dangers of smoking).”
AFTAH defines itself as “a group dedicated to exposing the homosexual activist agenda.” Its nonprofit status was recently revoked by the Internal Revenue Service for failure to comply with IRS nonprofit filing requirements.
The Southern Poverty Law Center still defines AFTAH as a hate group (among 29 others in the Illinois, where the organization is based).
**Correction: TAI previously reported that the FDA banned gay men from donating blood, for a lifetime, in 1977. In fact, this policy on “men who have sex with other men” began in 1983; 1977 — deemed the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. — is the cutoff year for “men who have sex with other men.” In other words, men who stopped having sex with other men before 1977 can donate blood. We regret the error.