Protesters have called on Northern Ireland’s health minister Edwin Poots to resign over his refusal to lift a ban on gay people donating blood.
LGBT rights activists shouted ‘Give Poots the boot’ outside a blood donation session in Londonderry on Saturday (4 August).
They then went inside to offer their blood, which the health service in Northern Ireland is still not allowed to accept, despite restrictions on gay donors being eased in the rest of the UK.
Poots has refused to give in to pressure from other members of the Stormont health committe, standing by an outright ban.
‘The argument put forward by the Health Minister just does not add up. It is unsupportable, biased and illogical,’ David McCartney, from LGBT health group the Rainbow Project, told the Belfast Telgraph.
‘He refuses to allow gay people here to donate, but yet there are times when blood is brought here from England for transfusions where gay people are allowed to donate.
‘I have never heard him say the screening process used here is inadequate simply because it isn’t inadequate, in fact it is quite the opposite. Edwin Poots, by his actions, could be seen as implying the screening process isn’t up to that used in England.
‘I have been heartened by the level of support this issue has from the straight community. One man told me on his way in that he will write on the bottom of his donation form "Give Poots the boot" in solidarity with us.’
An outright ban was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales last year, but gay and bisexual men are still barred from giving blood for a year.