Leave granted in 'Gay Blood' Case

05 July 2012

Leave has been granted by a Northern Ireland Court for a Judicial Review of the lifetime ban on homosexuals donating blood in Northern Ireland.

Leave granted for a judicial review of the lifetime ban on homosexuals donating blood in Northern Ireland.

Legal proceedings have been brought at the High Court in Belfast to challenge to the blanket ban on blood donations from gay men in Northern Ireland. The prohibition was imposed across the UK in the 1980s on the grounds that gay and bisexual men were at greater risk of HIV. In November 2011 the ban was modified in England, Scotland and Wales and blood donations are now permitted from men who have not had sexual contact with other men in the past 12 months.

No such change has taken place in Northern Ireland however and it is the position of Health Minister Mr Edwin Poots that the complete ban should remain in place on the grounds of public safety. It is this stance which is the subject of legal challenge. The Applicant’s legal Counsel submitted that the ban was irrational because Northern Ireland accepts blood supplies from the rest of the UK which could have been donated by gay men. It has been asserted that the decision of the Minister has been infected with apparent bias.

The Attorney General, on behalf of the Minister, argued that no definitive decision had been taken and that the Minister was entitled to act as he had. The High Court has ruled that the man (who remains anonymous due to his perceived vulnerability) has established an arguable case that the stance of the Health Minister Mr Edwin Poots, was irrational and unlawful.

Mr Justice Treacy granted leave to seek a judicial review of the decision on the grounds of compliance with EU law and the apparent irrationality of the decision.

This case has been listed for hearing in December 2012.

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