Pride P.E.I. chairman calls for changes to 'ridiculous' blood donation policy

Dave Stewart
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Tyler Murnaghan, interim chairman of Pride P.E.I., is upset that men who have had sex with men within the past five years are banned from donating blood. He is standing in front of the Canadian Blood Services offices in Charlottetown.

Tyler Murnaghan says it’s disappointing homosexual men can’t donate blood with an urgent need for donors

The interim chairman of Pride P.E.I. says it’s ridiculous that homosexual men aren’t allowed to donate blood.

Tyler Murnaghan is reacting to the Canadian Blood Services nationwide appeal for blood donations last week.

Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations in Atlantic Canada for CBS, said there was an urgent need and that their inventory was at the lowest point since 2008.

“In fact, it’s 35 per cent below what we plan for at this point in time,’’ MacDonald said last week.

Murnaghan said there are lots of people willing to line up to donate but aren’t allowed to. Men who have had sex with other men in the past five years are prohibited from donating blood.

“It’s disappointing to know that people need this blood to get surgeries and there’s nothing you can do to help,’’ Murnaghan said. “It definitely comes from the stigma, the blood crisis that happened years ago, the stigma around HIV AIDS. It all stems from that.’’

When asked for comment, Canadian Blood Services said no one was immediately available for comment but the organization did provide some background behind the decision.

CBS says before introductory testing on HIV in the mid-1980s, thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV through tainted blood products. Being solely responsible for the blood supply at the time, the Canadian Red Cross subsequently introduced donor eligibility criteria that excluded men who have sex with men (MSM), even once, since 1977 to protect the blood supply.

“That criteria was embedded into Health Canada regulations in 1992. The MSM population continues to account for the largest proportion of new HIV infections reported in Canada,’’ Canadian Blood Services indicated in an email to The Guardian.

The organization periodically reviews donor eligibility criteria, such as MSM. Last year, Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec received approval from Health Canada to reduce the MSM deferral period from indefinite to five years. This means five years after a man has had sex with another man, he will be eligible to donate blood, as long as he meets other donor eligibility criteria.

Some people who are upset with the policy have taken to comment on Pride P.E.I.’s Facebook page.

“It’s unreal how we’d rather face a medical crisis than deal with underhanded forms of discrimination,’’ says Nathalie Carrier.

“The scientific reasoning behind this ban is flawed and discriminative,’’ writes Jenna Hicken. “CBS is required to scan and test your blood before it’s donated to ensure patient safety. What an awful view to have of people, sad reality of how far we still have to come to acceptance of humanity.’’

Murnaghan said it isn’t hard to see why there is such a shortage of blood when so many people are prevented from donating.

Organizations: CBS, Health Canada, Canadian Red Cross The Guardian.The organization Hema-Quebec

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Jean-Claude Landa
    October 11, 2014 - 23:35

    when will blood banks, around Canada open their people at high Risk for HIV are actually heterosexual women!!!

  • Rmac
    October 11, 2014 - 05:53

    My husband and I have been in a monogamous relationship for 9 years. I find this derogative practice counterproductive and seems to set an image that HIV could possibly only be associated with gay men. The CDC reported that in 2008, out of the roughly 41,269 people to have been diagnosed with HIV that year, 13,180 were infected by heterosexual contact. That means 32% of newly diagnosed cases were from heterosexuals. According to the World Health Organization HIV Data and Statistics, women made up more than half the population living with HIV in 2009. Being gay does not mean anything when wanting to serve our neighbors in need.

  • Rmac
    October 11, 2014 - 05:41

    My husband and I have been in a monogamous relationship for 9 years. I find this derogative practice counterproductive and seems to set an image that HIV could possibly only be associated with gay men. The CDC reported that in 2008, out of the roughly 41,269 people to have been diagnosed with HIV that year, 13,180 were infected by heterosexual contact. That means 32% of newly diagnosed cases were from heterosexuals. According to the World Health Organization HIV Data and Statistics, women made up more than half the population living with HIV in 2009. Being gay does not mean anything when wanting to serve our neighbors in need.

  • Medical evidence urges these precautions
    October 10, 2014 - 23:00

    There is strong medical evidence to support the apprehension that blood from men who have sex with men will put blood recipients at risk of HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses. This isn't a gay rights issue, it's a necessary precaution based upon scientific analysis conducted by medical experts. This NDP kid completely misses the mark by trying to turn this into an equality issue. It's a smart policy which recognizes that gay men are more at risk of having HIV/AIDS than the general population.

  • Anthony R
    October 10, 2014 - 21:28

    The homophobia thesis would make a lot more sense if lesbians were prohibited from donating too. But they aren't. The only groups prohibited from donating are people who are at high risk of having disease or infection. Men who have had sex with other men, a demographic that makes up less than 3% of the population (and that's being generous), incidentally fall into this category. I can't blame blood clinics for refusing their blood, and I'm not keen on risking a tainted blood supply just so that we can protect gay mens' feelings. I say this as someone who is in favor of gay rights, including gay marriage.

    • Philippe
      September 06, 2016 - 13:54

      Oh thank you for being so magnanimous...

  • these comments...
    October 10, 2014 - 14:10

    seriously people, there's a reason your youth aren't sticking around and these comments should show you why. there's no room for homophobia in society anymore, the kids are starting to know dumb when they see it.

  • Dick
    October 10, 2014 - 13:00

    Keep it safe, eliminate high risk groups. If your Gay I don't care, go create drama elsewhere.

  • Jimmy Buffet
    October 10, 2014 - 04:09

    How did this even become a story . Thank God clearer heads will prevail and our blood supply will remain safe . I still do not agree the deferral period being dropped to 5 years , it should be no MSM at all . Maybe our blood supply is not as safe as it should be .

  • Embarrassed islander
    October 09, 2014 - 19:58

    The amount of uneducated, ignorant comments on here is disgusting. I'm honestly embarrassed for you guys when I read your statements about how gay pride parades shouldn't exist, that these people are tainted. Get your head out of your ass. The reason gay pride parades need to happen is because of people like you who have yet to get up to speed with what is happening in this world and the definition of human rights. Get some education and read the article thoroughly before making accusations. This goes beyond the facts- the problem with most of you is that you aren't comfortable with a gay lifestyle to begin with. It is absolutely shameful. I applaud Tyler for speaking on behalf of those who can't, and I hope in the future there will be changes made to reflect a more modern and equal society.

    • David
      October 09, 2014 - 23:34

      I agree 100% with your comment. It is a complete embarrassement and shock that idiots, like those making discriminatory comments on here, still exist..... Please educate yourselves before making such backwards thinking, discriminatory, ignorant, and arrogant comments.

  • Will
    October 09, 2014 - 16:35

    Rather than some blanket ban on MSM it should be based on behavior. Back door sex is riskier no matter who's doing it. There's a big difference between somebody having lots of unprotected sex and 2 gay guys in a longterm monogamous relationship. I know HIV rates are higher among gay males, but not all are high risk. And what's with the 5 year thing anyway? I know HIV can be undetectable for a few months but, that's a few months. What sense does 5 whole years make?

  • John
    October 09, 2014 - 16:28

    Unfortunately I have to agree with Canadian Blood Services' position. The reality of HIV screening is that there are, even if rare, false negatives (that is, tests that say there is no virus when in fact virus is present). By broadly categorizing people as "MSM" vs "MSW" you find that the rates of HIV infection are higher in the homosexual community. Thus, to paint a population with a very broad statistical brush it makes sense to avoid potentially having a false negative in your sample population by avoiding a population with a statistically higher incidence of the disease. No I don't think that any person should be discriminated against. However unless CBS was to create an irritatingly complex question survey to determine further personal data (e.g. how many partners, frequency etc), the existing statistical categorizations are going to persist in order to protect the confidence of Canadians in our blood donation system.

  • Islander
    October 09, 2014 - 14:44

    over 2 week wait period at the clinic now if you don't want to wait over 2 with it mr.'re whining is going nowhere!

  • Silly
    October 09, 2014 - 14:06

    By logic, if they aren't letting gay males give blood, they should also not be allowing females who have been with a bisexual male to give blood. From there not allowing any males or females who have been with those females who have been with bisexual males. What about when people have changed their genders over time. HOW CAN ANYONE BE SAFE. WE REALLY SHOULDNT BE GIVING ANYONE BLOOD FROM ANYONE ELSE.

  • Timmins man
    October 09, 2014 - 14:04

    I am astounded at the amount of ignorance in the general public, thinking gay males can start a blood bank solely for gay males?? Really?? And although I understand that in the 70's & 80's, the gay male population was the more predominant demographic for the spreading of this disease, that has changed and we are no longer the sole group. I appreciate that guidelines are in place to protect the masses, however, I believe they could be modified to reflect a more accurate demographic. If there really is such a shortage, as I am sure there is, accepting blood from all potentially safe donors should be considered.

  • Jenna
    October 09, 2014 - 13:45

    Also to add in Canada there is more positive HIV test in women age 15-29 then in men of that age group... Perhaps they should be banned as well if your worried CBS isn't testing their blood donation. The point is just because your a same sex couple doesn't mean that you are infected. HIV is found more in gay men because of lack of protection but with recent increases in education there has been an increase in protection decrease in positive tests. No matter how you look at it some persons have multiple partners some don't , some use protection, some don't .... Same sex or not look it up the percentages between men vs women in positive tests are not that different

  • Good job Tyler!
    October 09, 2014 - 13:26

    Ask a person who desperately needs blood if they care whether it came from a homosexual or not and see what their response is. This "law" is very damaging to our country. All blood gets tested irregardless of the donor's origin. And a homosexual person could easily lie and still donate. Just change the law and allow all healthy people who want to help by donating do so.

  • david
    October 09, 2014 - 13:24

    If Mr. Murnaghan feels this is ridiculous maybe the other people should look at other things we is ridiculous and demand they be changed. Lets start with the pride parade...why does there need to be parade for gay people....I don't see any parade celebrating straight people...maybe because we don't need the attention. Next why is the so call gay dances does this not segregate society what would he support say dances for ONLY black people obviously segregation is something he supports in certain areas just not in blood collection. Before he starts calling things ridiculous maybe he should look in his own closets for things the rest of us may feel is ridiculous.

    • Timmins man
      October 09, 2014 - 14:10

      Where do you live David?? "gay dances" are not strictly for the LGBT community. And pride is also displayed in such celebrations as Carabana in Toronto and any other celebration of a specific group. If the straight community would have had to fight for rights and priviledges as the LGBT community has, they would be more than welcome to have a pride celebration. Before commenting blindly, people should maybe review and inform themselves as to why some gatherings occur and that they are more inclusive than exclusive!

    • Jeff
      October 09, 2014 - 14:34

      1. The pride parade is a to bring notice to the group since we still do not have the same rights as straight people, the reason straights do not have a straight pride parade (that is if you do not consider mardigra one) is because you have not been prosecuted for years, murdered, excluded from society and seen as a mental disorder. This is still happening in many countries today. 2. The gay dances are not segregated , you are more then welcome to come, they are called lgbt dances to make it so the community knows it is a safe environment well at normal dances we have to second guess each person we approach.

    • tw
      October 09, 2014 - 15:14

      Why the hate on the gay events? If you don't like them don't pay attention to them and don't go to them. It isn't putting anyone's life at risk at all.

    • Will
      October 09, 2014 - 16:31

      Oh give me a break. Don't ask why you don't have 'straight pride' stuff, be thankful you don't need it. Why does it offend you so? As for 'gay dances', pretty sure anybody can go. But it's aimed at a certain demographic for people to feel comfortable, hang out with people who have that in common, that sort of thing.

    • david
      October 10, 2014 - 03:44

      Gay Dances and pride parade are not just for gay people really...well why do they need to be to be separate from other people. Are people not supposedly equal...woman have fought for years to be equal now gay people feel they not equal but better and need to have their own event.s If they need to be separate for dances and parades then what is the problem with separate blood collection? Why not have blood donor clinics for just the LGBT community? Dances and Parades need to be separate why not blood collection and blood storage? Mr. Murnaghan might be on to something maybe it is ridiculous when really the gay blood donours should be treated special and show they are special and have their own clinics and blood supply.

  • Eden
    October 09, 2014 - 11:44

    Even with the statistics of higher chance of AIDS and hepatitis in gay men, I should hope they test all blood, regardless of gender or sexuality of these illnesses. Just because the statistics may be higher in that group, doesn't mean it doesn't occur in straight people. It shouldn't matter what sexuality a person is, all blood should be tested. In my opinion, the benefits of having a larger group of of possible blood donors far outweighs the possibilities of these illnesses effecting blood receivers. Especially if CBS is testing all blood with the same accuracy and care, no matter the gender or sexuality.

    • Will
      October 09, 2014 - 16:39

      They test all blood. But HIV can be undetectable for a few months after infection. Still, it should target high risk behavior, not all MSM.

  • Cromwell
    October 09, 2014 - 11:41

    If homosexuals, such as Mr. Murnaghan, feel a desperate need to donate blood, then it should be specifically kept for donations to fellow homosexuals.

  • wayne weeks
    October 09, 2014 - 11:16

    label all donated blood from homosexuals as such and the community straight or gay can give their permission to receive it. Perhaps the gay community can start their own blood bank as see it succeeds ????

  • Henery
    October 09, 2014 - 11:09

    April 2013 Three victims of what is believed to be the largest outbreak of hepatitis C in U.S. history have been awarded $24million ) in compensation. Hey Kid where do you think the government would get that kind money to pay a high risk group they already denied donations from !!! I f your life style puts you at risk to pass aids on you should be excluded .. gay or not .. maybe when you grow up you'll understand .

  • Daniel Boudreau
    October 09, 2014 - 10:25

    Congratulations to you Tyler for getting this important story told...It needs to be said no matter how many times that it is a shame that homosexual men cannot donate. Until this ridiculous rule is changed I hope more people come out and speak against it. It boggles my mind that in the year 2014 we would rather be short blood that let people donate...I think a lot of it comes from people being uneducated too. Read some statistics sometime before you go on your all high and mighty rants. Who knows you may even learn something...

  • Been there
    October 09, 2014 - 09:13

    Having lost a family member who was in his forties when he died from tainted blood, I would NEVER want to see blood accepted from this man or any of his group. Get real.

    • Elizabeth
      October 09, 2014 - 14:37

      So, maybe you should be more concerned about the blood being TESTED after being donated? Instead of concerned about "this man or any of his group". please reread your comment and realize the amount of ignorance seeping out?

  • For gay rights
    October 09, 2014 - 08:45

    The point is, not all men who have sex with other men are HIV positive. As well, heterosexuals can also have HIV. They are making a general assumption that all gay men have HIV which is obviously not the case. They should get rid of this stupid rule and do some screening of the blood before it's given to people, which I'm assuming they already do, given that their are other infections that are passed through blood. Good job Tyler, and keep fighting for what's right.

    October 09, 2014 - 08:26

    Is 5 years long enough , I thought the virus could remain dormant for up to 10 years . Maybe there has been newer research . Just the same if MSM want to donate blood keep it at a different facility , completely separate from CBS in every way .

    • Will
      October 09, 2014 - 16:41

      HIV is detectable after a few months of infection. It should be based on high risk behavior, not a blanket ban on MSM. There's a huge difference between somebody (of any orientation) having lots of unprotected sex and a couple guys in a monogamous relationship.

  • Stan
    October 09, 2014 - 08:23

    This isn't discrimination, it's science. Men who have had sex with other men are at a very high risk to have blood diseases. I'll go donate blood for the first time to help out. But this policy should remain in place.

  • don
    October 09, 2014 - 07:43

    so if tainted blood gets thru and you infect a person do you care kid? NO. as long as you can say "I DONATED BLOOD" shame on you for NOT caring...............

    • Omg.
      October 09, 2014 - 08:44

      Do you not realize that they screen and test all blood? And that if tainted blood 'gets through' it's because someone at CBS isn't doing their job properly. ANYONE can have 'tainted blood'. I, as a single white female could sleep with a bunch of people, unknowingly contract HIV and STILL donate blood.

    • Ignorance
      October 09, 2014 - 10:28

      Incredible that amount of backwoods inbred ignorance that still exists on PEI. Are any of you above a grade 3 education? Do FACTS not matter to you at all?

    • Frank Lively
      October 09, 2014 - 11:43

      "CBS is required to scan and test your blood before it’s donated to ensure patient safety." Can you read?

    • don
      October 09, 2014 - 15:07

      well omg, Ignorance, Frank Lively. i wonder how you three for example would feel if you got tainted blood ? i'm sure you would sue. but testing is not 100% guaranteed. remember nothing is perfect including testing. so next time you get blood ask your self is this blood 110% clean. and if not DO NOT SUE as you wanted gays to donate blood. and lets hope you do not or your kids do not get bad blood.

  • blood recepient
    October 09, 2014 - 07:33

    Statistically, male homosexual activity is still, by far, the #1 highest risk group for AIDS, hepatitis.... When I receive blood, I want to know they did everything possible to protect me from risks of being infected with those illnesses.

    • donor
      October 09, 2014 - 09:01

      that's why donated blood is screened and why they don't let you donate if you're sick or unhealthy... and Don, we DO care. That's the point. There are many, many homosexual men that would be prime candidates to donate blood but CBS continues to generalize the HIV/AIDS stigma to the entire gay population. Of course unhealthy people shouldn't donate, but just because someone has specific intimate relations doesn't mean they're infected.

    • Agree
      October 09, 2014 - 10:07

      Agree totally with your post , just look back a few years ago when Keith Milligan allowed tainted blood to be used & the suffering associated from it . Keep the # 1 highest risk group for AIDS from infecting any more unsuspecting people that are expecting clean blood . Sorry if this stance hurts this kid's feeling's but common sense should take priority here . Not hurt feelings .

    • Daniel Boudreau
      October 09, 2014 - 10:31

      Actually it's not...The highest risk group of Aids in the world is Sub-Saharan African girls...So unless you are taking business trips there and getting blood transfusions I would say you are doing fine...CBS screens all of its blood, thus they do everything possible to protect you.

    • Mark
      October 09, 2014 - 11:11

      I would hope they test ALL blood they take from one person before putting it into another!! That sweet little old lady with a crucifix around her neck could have easily 'been around the block' in her younger days.....also, plenty of straight couples engage in anal sex, so this nonsense that one group is 'higher risk' is ridiculous.....TEST ALL!!!

    • Frank Lively
      October 09, 2014 - 11:47

      Maybe they could screen each and every donation. Oh wait, they already do that. As stated in the article. That you probably didn't read.

    • Jenna
      October 09, 2014 - 12:12

      So what about the men who are married???? Have been together for ten + years. They are not aloud to donate because well they are together with their lover. They do not have AIDs HIV ect and can not help in this shortage.... But this lady down the road who has multiple partners donates, not yet knowing she is HIV positive and that's okay???? STI and diseases do not discriminate and gay marriage is part of this country but yet they can't donate because they slept with their husband.

    • Timmins man
      October 09, 2014 - 12:32

      So "everything possible" means screening every donors blood. If a gay couple has been monogamous for over 5 years and have tested negative in an AIDS test, they should be allowed to donate!!