The next episode of the drama Drop Dead Diva sheds light on a little-known US law that makes it illegal for a man to donate sperm if he's had sex with another man during the past five years.
Airing on Sunday (19 August), the episode tells the story of a gay man, played by Tyler Jacob Moore, who is arrested for donating sperm.
'The reason for the rule is ostensibly to keep the sperm banks free of HIV,' says Drop Dead Diva creator and executive producer Josh Berman. 'That being said, modern testing is extremely effective in identifying HIV shortly after infection. In truth, the only basis for the Federal Drug Administration restriction is homophobia.'
The Lifetime network drama has a history of LGBT inclusive storylines such as one last year that was based on the real-life story of Constance McMillen, a high school student from Mississippi who wasn’t permitted to attend prom with her girlfriend.
Another episode featured a storyline in which a transgender woman, played by Candis Cayne, was in a legal battle with her in-laws over her deceased partner’s property.
'The creators of Drop Dead Diva have once again used their platform to shed light on injustices that require greater attention,' says Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. 'Storytellers and television have a powerful ability to help enact social change by first reaching people through entertainment. This episode demonstrates how unfair this outdated and biased ban really is.'
Nathan Schaefer, director of Public Policy at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, also released a statement on the issue: 'As we continue to advocate for reformed blood donation policies for gay men, the prohibition of gay men donating sperm reminds us of the uphill challenges we face with the FDA. While gay men are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic, the majority of gay men across the country are HIV-negative.'
Schaefer added: 'Adults who exercise their reproductive rights have the ability to consent to whom will donate either sperm or eggs. Biological parenting is another part of life, along with adoption and marriage, that should be available to all Americans – regardless of their sexual orientation.'